Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to Cook Like Jane Austen

A week ago today, I received my first ever acceptance from a pro-rate market (yaaayyy). "Picking Roses for Chateelet"-- according to the brief letter, stating that I would receive a contract in the near future-- is slated for about March-ish 2011? Cool stuff, anyway. Lore shut down a few years back (I was eleven years old), and now they're reopening. I've never read anything they've published, so I feel extremely lucky to be there. Moving on. "How to Cook Like Jane Austen" is available over at Bartleby Snopes, which I'm happy about. I had a lot of fun writing this one. Moving on again.

In the past, I've had trouble with the word "as" when used as a conjunction. More specifically, when it is used to indicate that something is being done while something else is being done. "As she walked, this really crazy descriptive clause happened." And: "He lit a cigarette as he did such and such and then some really wonderful things happened." The use of the word always came off as sort of amateur. But I think the reason I felt this way is because I never could use it smoothly enough, it just didn't flow with my sentences, it was obvious, stuck out like a sore thumb, and distracted me, personally. I've learned to ignore this, now. And I've also learned to not be so bitter when other people use this word, successfully. I make large problems out of small words. Mountains and mole hills.

I also used to really hate the use of cigarettes in stories. I love smoking, but cigarettes always came off as sort of a cheap descriptive device to indicate mood, or smell, or whatever. I'm still not sure if I would ever use cigarettes in my stories, mostly because there are a million other things I could do to indicate the same sensation a cigarette can induce. But I'm trying to look past the fact, in the works of others. Mostly successful. Still, sometimes, they bug me. And that is all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Word Length

It's been a while since I've posted anything on SNG, mostly because I don't want to be "one of those bloggers" with nothing to say but plenty to write. Right? Yep. Unfortunately, that's sort of the case here.

However, Eunoia Review, a lovely e-zine that posts fiction and poetry daily, has accepted a small piece of mine, which will appear around June 2012 (gasp)!

Today's subject of conversation is word length, quality over quantity, etc. Do editors not choose works based on how easily they will fit into a set number of pages? Wouldn't a place like Clarkesworld or Lightspeed or Fantasy (all of which publishes two original stories a month) want to give the reader a happy combination of quantity and quality? Sure, why not. I've seen stories in all three pushing somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 words, don't get me wrong. I realize they publish shorter pieces. But those seem somewhat rare to me—I'm not complaining at all about this—but my question is just how well a market looks at length vs. quality.

The reason I wonder is that most of my stories, lately, have been coming in at around 3,500 words. That seems a happy number of words, not too much, not too little. I fit what I feel the story needs into the words, I take out the things I dislike. It's strange to me that they always come out to 3,500. Spooky stuff, Microsoft Word is.

Remember at the beginning where I hinted that this was a blog about nothing? Yep. Sorry.

Thoughts concerning word length in fiction would be cool.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Acceptances, Rejections, and Other Things

Issue Fourteen of >Kill Author is up, and I'm lucky enough to be part of the lineup. My story "The History of Character X" was taken by decomP (September), and "How to Cook Like Jane Austen" by Bartleby Snopes (October) which I'm very happy about.

I've had a lot of good luck with litfic journals, but I can't seem to place anything at a respectable spec-fic magazine. On one hand, Comets and Criminals recently purchased a flash I'd published in Brain Harvest back in September--and I really like the looks of C&C, best of luck to them--but the rejections keep pouring in.

With rejections comes lack of responsibility. I write slower. I'm easily distracted. What really helps return my focus is flash or micro fiction. If I'm having trouble with one particularly long piece, I'll take a break from it and free write, which may or may not turn out to be readable prosetry (or whatever they're calling it nowadays).

I'm about to send out a micro-fic to Word Riot. They have this wonderful section entitled "Stretching Forms", which I intend on flooding with edible, rejectable pieces of prose.

(I've had nearly 30 pieces rejected by Word Riot in the past, most of which I've been lucky enough to publish elsewhere. Their lack of interest in my writing is teasing.)

USM's fall semester is about two weeks away, so I don't have a lot of time to get writing done. No time for workshopping, anyway. It'll be rough. But sometimes I feel it's doable.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Failed Zines

Literary magazines come and go all of the time. My own zine, Widowmoon Press, was among the online zines that couldn't last. Not even a year. Offering (IMO) a fair mix of traditional lit fic and genre pieces, poetry, prosetry, ect., WP had a decent readership. However, the last month or so was difficult on account of a very low number of submissions. There wasn't a lot to choose from, so I had no choice but to abandon ship.

For whatever reason, a couple of the first zines in which my work appeared faded as well. The first to go was Bloody Bridge Review. It had a ton of great stories from a variety of talented authors, but there was a vague indication of a dispute on the guidelines page. Something along the lines of: We're not really sure who runs this thing anymore. I don't remember exactly what it said and I can't tell, because the zine was completely removed from public view-- again, for whatever reason-- I don't know why a free zine should be removed from public view in any case (a blogger domain).

Another site I'd been taken in by--Barrier Islands Review--had a strange demise. Not exactly similar to anything I know of. The editor apparently went nuts and decided her work was better than any of the stuff she'd published. The only thing the public could see was the home page. The editor changed the title of the zine to "You Suck Review" and the subhead said something along the lines of: Quit trying. You'll never be anything. So anything inherently bad I have to say about the editor is probably deserved. The only kind of people that feel this way about their own work ARE in fact the bitter ones who become stuck and never progress/never try to learn from their mistakes.

It's ironic that the editor had a fair number of accolades to begin with. Accolades--in my opinion--is sort of a stupid synonym for "accomplishments", but the zine actually had a section entitled "accolades" on the About the Editor page. I remember this quite clearly. Now that I think about it, I don't know why I ever decided to submit work to her in the first place.

It might be Duotrope's fault. It's a great website, wonderful help for writers looking for zines and journals to place their work. The acceptance rate was extremely low with a high number of reports; maybe that's the reason I was so interest in submitting. Sort of a challenge, I guess.

Self-Renown is a villianous position to be in, I think. It doesn't seem to lead us anywhere good.

Anyway, below is my Bloody Bridge Review accepted piece. Like I said, it's early work for me--not at all my best work--but my first publications made me happy simple because they were my first publications. And apparently someone else liked it, so that's a plus.

Garrett Ashley

            "And how does it feel to be a winner?" said the man in a gray suit. He held a microphone inches from Otto's lips and wiped beads of sweat from his pulsating forehead.
            "It feels good to be alive," said Otto. The crowd went wild.
            Otto breathed hard. He had never been so excited in his too short life. He watched his fans with sympathy through a thick glass window ahead of him. Each wore a smile, each held the other's hand.
            A machine lowered and Otto's gray host gave him the microphone. "Here are your flavors," he said. "Red, green, and yellow."
            Little neon lights flickered in Otto's glazed eyes. "I like strawberry," he said.
            "Strawberry, he said!" The fans on the other side of the glass loosened their grips on one another and clapped until they cried.
            "Any last words?" said the gray host.
            "I'm just really nervous," said Otto. "More now than ever before." His esophagus shook with the words. A gentle strawberry needle pierced his grainy neck. Yum, he thought. The crowd had never been such an animal. A young woman tried to tear through the glass so that she could be with her greatest hero.
            Sir Otto the great. The man who did it all.
            The strawberry flavor surged through his veins and gushed into the mourning temple atop his brain. Tears fell onto the floor. Tears of the man of the hour. The man who saw it all.
            "We have a winner," whispered the host.
            "I've never been a winner before," Otto whispered back.
            "What's that?"
            "I've never. . ." His head tilted and Otto fell asleep. In his dreams there was a dead girl who wore a strawberry red flower in her hair. A little smile and little dimples on her cheeks. Her eyes beamed. Otto ran with her forever.

On a side note: I realize you can't see the scary naked giant in the background. I assure you he's very scary and very naked.

Also: A lot of what I say on Scary Naked Giant will be fairly (more or less) sloppy. It's currently 3 a.m., and I've very very tired. I don't plan on polishing any of my blog posts like submissions. A lot of good bloggers do, but I'm not a very good blogger and I probably won't ever be :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Five Short Stories!

The title of this post should be "Best Five Short Stories Recently. There are plenty of classics from plenty of dead authors that I'm inspired by, but when I'm inspired by contemporary writing, I know I've read something that's too good not to share. The following are my top five favorites, linked (except one), in no particular order:

Study, for Solo Piano (Genevieve Valentine)

I'll be honest, I'm not really sure of how to pronounce Genevieve's name. But her stories are pretty remakable. Study, for Solo Piano was originally published in Fantasy Magazine, but her stories are all over the internet.

Where the Electrician Went (Micah Dean Hicks)

I know how to pronounce Micah's name. I'm lucky enough to know him in person, but that has nothing to do with this selection. It follows the life of an electrician (backwards through time) who fixes lives.

Heaven Photographed by Hubble Telescope (Rachel Jensen)

This one's short, a little more than a thousand words. The title says all--what happens when astronomers discover Heaven?

The Last Thing We Need (Claire Vaye Watkins)

Published in one of the best literary magazines out there, The Last Thing We Need is a short told in the epistolary style. The story in my opinion is perfect to the extent that I've tried to duplicate the effect it had on me in the ending. I don't think I'll ever be able to pull it off like Watkins.

My Last Attempt to Explain to You What Happened with the Lion Tamer (Brendan Mathews)

I honestly can't find the story anywhere online, but it was originally published in the Cincinnati Review, and has appeared in Richard Russo's "Best American Short Stories" (2010). Buy that book if you ever come across it. It's filled with stories that are just as awesome.

I've read plenty of great stories all over the place--some appearing in markets that are barely visible on the radar. The above are simply the ones that came to mind as I began the post. And for the sake of including a fifth story readily available online, here is Zack Crawford's "Harbor Survival", located at Wonderfort. Harbor Survival may be poetry, prosetry, I can't really tell the difference. But I know it's full and great considering the word count.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Giants are cool!

I am new to blogging!

The title of this post says all. I'll try to be interesting and relevant. Goya's Colossus (Coloso, The Giant, whatever you want to call it) isn't exactly relevant to anything but the name of my blog. Which I think is catchy. Might not be catchy. There's no reason that I should be blogging about giants, but giants are pretty cool, so what the heck? They're scary, probably naked (unless there are giant tailors). That's how I came up with the blog's name.

I may blog about weather, Hattiesburg MS, writing, rejections, acceptances, etc. . . I don't really know anything by this point.

On the right, there is a STORIES page, which lists a few of my online publications. I may eventually make a page housing links to my print stories, zines, journals, etc. that I like/read.