‘Memory Exchange’ now available from Ether Books!

A quick post as I continue my research and pre-scheduling for the hectic month of April – The 3rd and final of the Simultaneously-Accepted batch of stories I sent off to Ether Books is now available! Memory Exchange is a contemporary fantasy beginning in a world very familiar to me – the dusty, empty theatre hours after a big show! It was a fun story to write, as I got to put together my love for the setting alongside a fantastic concept. I hope you will enjoy this story as much I enjoyed writing it.

Unlike my other works on Ether Books, this is a paid download. It’s cheap! Just 69p ($0.99) gets the story permanently added to your Ether Books library.

Your purchase helps me get more works out there!

Hope you’ll consider buying it.

 

Back to writing for me – got some hard work ahead this month.

Blogging from A-Z – Evil Spirits, Daemons, and other Fell Things from Beyond!

 I know what I want to do for the April 2014 Blogging from A to Z challenge: Evil Spirits!

A B C of DEATH!

I’ll write a super short blurb on each of these nasty spirits, each day except Sunday. I will try to restrict myself to mythological nasties that would likely appear in a spiritual form – we’ll see how well I can keep to that rule through all 26 letters. This is my little research project too – I could find some use for these nasties in my fiction.

This series starts on April 1st! Watch the shadows carefully…

 

Sources:

Left image – Abiku by Sexforcigaretts on DeviantArt

Center image – Barghest – Bigger and Badder by Mejin on DeviantArt

Right image – Aztec Cihuateotl figure from Wikimedia Commons

Immunity to Change – A free course I’m taking

I’m taking this online course from edX, Unlocking the Immunity to Change.

Guess what change I want to make? Yup, I want to be more committed to my fiction, writing for a bare minimum of 1 hour every day. I think this course might be especially good for aspiring writers. I know a lot of people who want to write, but can’t seem to get themselves down to out most days (takes one to know one, heh). The change we need to make is getting rid of this “I don’t have time!” mentality and learn how to MAKE the time instead.

I want to review, write, AND participate more in the writing community. What I need to learn is how to do all of that with a full-time job and a family! In the future, I want to be less dependent on my current full-time job and more dependent on writing. I’m never going to get there without some serious changes to my habits and my ways of thinking.

I’m only in the first week of the course, so I’ll be posting updates on my progress as I go. New members are still welcome to join the course – come on, it’ll be fun!

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What happens when you keep a dream diary?

My hand scrawls softly across the page in the pale predawn. Ephemeral fragments of half-remembered sights and sounds, desperately salvaged as they disappear. Too amazing for words, yet words are all I have. My hand keeps moving, keeps scribbling, sketching out vanishing images in my medium, words both powerful yet woefully inadequate. The logic in my brain has yet to fully awake, leaving me free to scribble out the crazy, senselessness. Impossibilities play out in thin ink, ridiculous and insane.  My hands at last stop, wakefulness fully washing over me in the new sun’s light. The few details I could harvest are now spent; the rest has vanished, forever irretrievable.

I sigh. A moment of closed eyes, a moment of thankfulness for what was saved. I open my eyes and read. What wonder, what strangeness! The fragments scribbled in my uneven hand are strangers to me. From what corner of my soul came they? Is meaning hidden within? Could I divine some future or unknown truth from these odd fragments of subconscious? A silent scoff enters my mind – ah, that’s my logic, awake now. Dreams are nothing, merely the brain making peace with old learnings and paving the way for  fresh knowledge, my logic tells me. I smile, shaking my head. It matters little, I decide, whether dreams hold magic, or are side-effects of an ever-growing mind. They are miraculous, odd, and dearly welcome worlds within to explore and cherish.

And that, folks, is why you should have a dream diary! I’ve been keeping one for a while, and even as a writer, it seemed a little pointless. After all, I cannot honestly say that a story worth publishing has come directly from my dreams. At least, the writing in my dream diary doesn’t seem to have directly inspired any final product. I can’t be sure, though, because what if writing out what I could remember helped me figure out some tangentially related idea that did make it into my regular writing? Ah, that’d be much harder for me to see happening!
That’s the best reason to keep a dream diary, I think. The gonzo stuff you write might not make it directly into any of your stories, but it comes from the same corner of your psyche.  Writing out as much as you remember helps bring out the creativity and weirdness that makes fiction so appealing to readers and writers.

#IWSG – What if It’s Not as Bad (or as Good) as You Think?

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For my first post for the IWSG, I’ll talk about 2 problems amateur writers face pretty much always:

#1 – What if it sucks?

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? You’ve spent hours upon hours on a piece, but you’re afraid to share. It doesn’t much matter how often you’ve written, how many pieces you’ve published. What if it sucks donkey gonads? What if everyone says my writing reeks like rotting carcasses? 

#2 – My friends like it, that’s enough, isn’t it?

Insecure writers know #1 all to well. But wait, there’s more! The flip-side – you’ve got a good story you’ve just finished. You’ve had some friends read it, and they liked it! What more do I need? I like it, somebody else likes it, it’s great! No more changes – time to GET IT OUT THERE!

I’ve talked before about the need to share, share, share that drives me, and how I always wonder if I’ve done enough revision before the first release to the public. I started this blog by saying “Screw problem #1 – I’m just going to share!” Very little of the writing I first posted was peer-reviewed. You can tell, if you dare to click through my archives…

A lot of what I share and submit now shows signs of #2 – stories that I’ve run past a few close people, but really just wanted to shoot out there. I need feedback from readers on the net, after all. As I’m discovering, the problem with giving in to #2 is I end up with stories that very few people comment on or even acknowledge.

So when is a story good enough? How do I know it doesn’t suck?

Here are my own ideas, based on my admittedly limited experience and understanding:

1. Trial and error is better than sitting on stories too long.

One bad piece isn’t going to kill a writing career. Far from it – Bradbury submitted a bazillion works, and he didn’t worry too much about quality at the start. He also pointed out that anybody who writes 52 works a year pretty much HAS TO produce something good among that much output. No way will I get out 52 pieces a year, but 12 is very doable. It’ll be slower, but I won’t be neglecting family and job obligations either.

2. Review and critique regularly.

You must review and critique, especially in the genres of stories you like to write. This has the side effect of ensuring that you are READING, and it gets you thinking about the analysis and synthesis required for story-crafting.

3. Set nasty deadlines and hold yourself to them.

If you blog (and writers should, these days), hold yourself to one post a week, at least. Decide which day of the week. Post a notice in big letters at the top of your blog – “UPDATES EVERY WEDNESDAY”or whatever day you decide. There. You are obliged. People will be ANGRY and storm your e-mail inbox with cyber-torches and pitchforks if you don’t post!

Set a due date for your writing – I know I can’t do one story per week, but I CAN do one every month. The last day of the month is my big scary due date – I have to finish a piece of flash fiction or a short story, show it to people, revise it, AND submit, all BEFORE the end of the month! I give myself 2 weeks to write, 1 week to share, 1 week to revise, and then it’s out there, either as a blog post or as a submission to a short fiction publisher.

I go through this no matter how badly I think the story sucks. I go through this even if my ego is acting up and is absolutely convinced the story is the next freaking Shakespeare sonnet. Do I still have stories that suck? Oh hells yes. Do I still overestimate the quality of my work? Shyeah, my ego can get abnormally huge when I’ve fallen head-over-heals for a story idea. But holding myself to the steps and the schedule seems to be helping. I’m but an egg, so time will tell!

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Okay, time for your hints. How do you make sure you don’t underestimate or overestimate your stories’ qualities?