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A number of years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution that I was finally able to keep:  I would never make another New Year’s resolution.  Still, this is a natural time to reflect on the triumphs and tragedies of the past year and think about directions for the coming year.

When 2010 began, I was surviving, not living.  I tried to lighten the grueling commute to work with books and video games.  While I enjoyed the company of some of my fellow passengers, I just could not help feel like I was losing a great deal of my life.

As two of my children entered adulthood, I realized that I had been standing still for most of the last twenty years.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t resent my children at all.  Putting our dreams on hold is part of what we naturally do as parents.  I didn’t really think that I could write anything that anyone would want to read, much less buy, so I didn’t feel like I was losing much.

I put some of my poetry out for the world to see with mixed reviews.  As this year went on, I finished my first novella.  In the space of a month, I wrote thirty short stories and poems and put them out there.  I learned just how brutal the world of publishing could be.  Over the next months, I wrote fewer stories, but better of quality.  By year’s end, I had publishing offers for many of my pieces, but more importantly, I had a plethora of worlds to build in.

There have been numerous setbacks this year, both personal and financial and more than a few days when I didn’t feel like writing at all.  Nevertheless, they are always calling me: Becca and the sword spirits, the residents of Full Moon City, the clan of the White Wolf (Esa Rosa) and their embrace feels like home.  That, and not any amount of compensation or recognition, is what makes me feel like a writer.

Enjoy the remainder of the holiday season.  Enjoy your friends and family.  Find the joy in your writing, let your characters talk to you, don’t tell them what to do, they have their own stories to tell.  Above all, keep writing my friends!


 
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I hope you have all been enjoying the holiday season.  I have been in an organization mode rather than writing mode lately, although one particular story that I have been working on keeps forcing me to write at least five hundred words a day.  In my typical contrary style, the primary stories that I am currently working on were inspired by submission calls, specifically the “what we aren’t looking for” section.  Actually to be fair, the one simply said we are looking for this theme in a fantasy setting not robots and space ships, but the story formed completely in my head and I couldn’t resist.  Another publisher inspired a story by stating that they are open to anything, but had never published anything about:… and proceeded to give a list of unrelated topics including badgers, I decided to tie the unrelated topics together and I quite like the result.

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say hello to my faithful followers.  Merry Christmas to all, and keep writing my friends!


 
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Submishmash
Status
No, I am not talking about the lyrics to one of my favorite Gary Allan songs.  I am talking about the waiting game.  Last night, I received a rejection, after four months, from one of the first children’s markets to which I submitted.  I was not surprised.  First, there is the nature of the industry, that rejections come more easily than acceptances, but also, I’ve learned just how sloppy and careless my writing was when I first applied myself seriously to writing for publication.

On the other hand, I received my first acceptance for my Nom De Plume for a submission made 2 months ago.  I had forgotten that I was still using the name and had to scramble to figure out what sort of bio to use.  Such is the see saw that is waiting for responses.  The only solace I suppose that I can offer is that, as we learn what we are good at and as our name becomes better established, we have fewer rejections and more acceptances, even if we still have to wait several months for a response.

Keep writing my friends!


 
In case you haven't figured it out by now, you should ALWAYS study the writer's guidelines before you submit to a market, in addition to reading samples they have previously accepted if available.  I came across a new market, Holly Lisle's Rebel Tales.
Ms. Lisle has taken the time to provide an educational and entertaining explanation for what she expects from genre writers.  I think, whether or not  you decide to submit to Rebel Tales, you will find her writer's guidelines highly informative. 
Keep writing my friends!
 

Well, it looks like we finally put a check mark in the win column.  This week I successfully completed work with my first trainee.  I get to spend most of the next four months teaching, my very favorite thing in the world.   The publications are starting to filter in and the writing is coming more easily.  I am chomping at the bit to get the pile of short stories that I am reediting out of the way so that I can finish editing Emerald Dreams and start writing Turquoise wind.

For my friends who are struggling with writer’s block, just remember how much you accomplished in November.  It will come back, just relax and let it flow.  Write about something completely different, something you would never write.
Keep writing my friends!



Alright, Because I am such a good mood, here is today’s random scene (please, forgive the formatting, I am trying to learn script writing):


Why IT People Should Never Be Writers
by Wakefield Mahon (dedicated to Voodoo Spice, one of my favorite writer geeks!)

INT. JIM's CUBICLE - DAY
JIM is seated.  JOHN walks in carrying a book.

    JOHN
Hey, I just wrote a story

    JIM
Good for you. That's great!

    JOHN
Would you mind taking a look at it and telling me what you think?

    JIM
Sure. Sure hang on

    JIM
    (while reading)
Mmm... ok... right

    JOHN
Well?

Jim shrugs

    JIM
It's not bad. It could use a little work, though.

    JOHN
    (angrily)
Not bad?

John takes a breath

    JOHN
    (calmly)
 I mean, yeah, thank you for your honest opinion.

                    CUT TO:
INT. JOHN's CUBICLE - SAME DAY
The telephone rings.  John picks up the receiver.

    JOHN
John Stanton

    JIM (V.O.)
Say John?

    JOHN
Hey Jim, what's up?

    JIM (V.O.)
Do you know what happened to my account?

John pulls up Jim's account information on his computer screen.

    JOHN
Wow, somebody really did a number on you.

    JIM (V.O.)
Well can you fix it?

    JOHN
Hmm let me look
    (beat)

John grins.

    JOHN
It's not bad. It could use a little work, though.

 
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Hello friends and fellow writers,  
I've been so busy lately, I've hardly had time to sit and think about this blog.  I just wanted to share some happy news.  I received a copy of my first paperback anthology, in the mail last night, from Living Dead Press.
I appreciate every publisher that has worked with me. To see my byline on a website or in an e-book is wonderful, but there is nothing like holding, in your hand, the evidence that someone else has read your writing.  I have a few more hard-copies coming my way, but the first one always seems special, doesn't it?
My wife has already hijacked the book to show off to her coworkers.  I thought that was so sweet. I am lucky to have her encouragement.  Of course, I am paranoid that someone is going to damage the book, but that will change with time, I'm sure.  It is available in both paperback and Kindle.  The details are on my publication blog.  I'd also like to thank Folded Word for publishing another of my poems.  It is really starting to feel like I'm not wasting my time.
I've spent much of the past week rewriting one of my favorite stories.  While originally the story was a lot of fun, it now has a solid plot and characterization as well.  I'm still learning the process.  Every day I learn something new, about myself or about the industry, and I thank you for taking the time to journey with me.  Keep writing my friends!`

 
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I was fortunate enough to have a few successes this week, but I also had a number of rejections.  One of the markets was kind enough to provide a four-member response.

Fortunately, I have learned a lot in the three months since I submitted that particular piece so I would like to take a moment and review the two primary reasons for this particular rejection.

Reason one:

Why do I care?  A writer may construct the most beautiful prose or express the most amazing vision and that is wonderful.  You can frame it on your wall or show it off in your literary blog.  Most editors, most readers for that matter are interested in a story, specifically a character.  Why do I care if Fred marries Kate?  Why should I root for Anthor in his battle against the evil wizard?  Without character development or at least some measure of resonance, your story is likely to see the circular file.

It is not enough to say Fred loves Kate.  The writer needs to make the reader feel his yearning.  The reader may or may not agree with the writer that the evil wizard deserves to die.  Without some sense of threat the evil wizard poses to innocents, and the gravity with which the hero considers his mission, the reader may feel more as if they are watching a hack and slash video game than immersing in a story.

Reason two:

I don't get it.  This is a tough one for me.  I love irony and I love inside jokes.  The dark and mysterious, the unexplained are the stuff of nightmares.  The problem is if your first reader, the editor or the lucky slush pile warrior, does not understand what you are trying to say, then you will not likely reach any more readers.

Of course, your character with the leather jacket saying "Ayyy" is a clever homage to Arthur Fonzarelli, but if your reader never watched the 70s sitcom "Happy Days", or doesn't remember Fonzie's signature quip, they are not likely to get the reference, much less understand why it is so funny that your character jumped over a shark.  Remember, it doesn't have to be an obscure reference.  Make sure, whatever point you are trying to put across, you spelled it out in plain English.

This concept also encompasses transitions.  If the scene has changed, let the user know.  Kim went the grocery store.  It may seem obvious to you that when she opened her refrigerator, she had already paid for her groceries, driven home and walked into her kitchen with the bags.  Don't take the chance, any time a reader has to think, you risk breaking the spell that is the whole point of fictional writing.

In case you missed it, EMG-Zine picked up my poem Shango for their December Issue.  I will have a few more links in the coming weeks.  Keep writing my friends!