Subverting the Prophecy Subversion v 1 is Done!

This story was written only because of the push 4theWords gave me to get words on the page. Since I couldn’t get more words from After the Escape, I decided to do some brainstorming, and wrote down a bit that has been kicking around in my brain about the Evil Overlord killing the prophesied hero before he can rise to power. I liked it so much, I developed it into a flash fiction. And then I liked it so much, I’m starting to develop a novel that will follow the person to take up the mantle of hero.

I’m still not satisfied with the flash version. It doesn’t have a satisfying ending to it. And the hero’s characterization needs some work to make him interesting. But it has potential. And if it doesn’t make it on its own, it will make a good first chapter. 🙂

Statistics:

  • 488 words
  • 1 scene
  • 3 characters

Hugo 2018 Reading – November

Last month I read a bunch of flash fiction. I have some ideas for flash stories, so I want to study what works in that form. Yes, I’ve done well in the Mormon Lit Blitz with those stories, but I’d like to go pro with them too. So here’s what I got around to.

Emergency Scenarios” by Kelly M. Sandoval
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

This story made me laugh. Trisha runs emergency scenarios to asking out her crush, and asks for the worst case scenario, which is everybody dies in a fire. Great characterization in such a short space.

This is also the first story I’ve read with the pronoun ze. I want to learn more about gender non-binary individuals, so I was glad to read it.


The In Between Place” by Kat Day
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

I actually critiqued this story on critters a few months ago. I remembered being really confused by the draft. I wasn’t confused this time, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what changed to bring that about without looking at the two drafts side by side. The descriptions are definitely better, and nice.

It is a bit abstract, which isn’t my taste. I like my art to be definite.


In Spring, the Dawn. In Summer, the Night” by Aidan Doyle
a short story published by PodCastle

The fantasy element of this story didn’t come until the end of the story, so I didn’t have as much interest. Also, while PodCastle called it flash, it really is more than 3,000 words long. The prose is very poetic, fitting since it is about a battle poet. The battle of wits was interesting, though unfortunately a lot went over my head. The culture was portrayed very nicely though.


Winter Witch” by Matt Dovey
a short story published by PodCastle

This year, my niece was stillborn. So this story hit a chord in me. The conclusion was unexpected, but sweet. It is full of inner description which gives the winter witch a wonderful voice.

Review: 4theWords

My current boss on the main quest

My current boss on the main quest

For the last month, I’ve been trying out the site 4thewords.com. It is a site that gamifies writing. You fight monsters, complete quests, and level up based on how many words you write. The monsters are defeated by writing a certain number of words in a time limit. There are a wide variety of monsters, ranging from 100 words to above 1,000, depending on if you want to sprint, or are looking for a longer writing session. Quests vary from fighting monsters for various drops, writing a certain number of days in a row, and fighting bosses.

Before I started using this site, I had been writing mainly one day a week. With the quests motivating me, I’ve managed to get something written most days of the week. A lot of my words have been journaling, or copying over emails, but I have still been more productive than before. Good thing they keep everything I write private, unless I want to publish it. But I don’t plan on putting my finished stories up for awhile.

One thing I really like about their word counter is that deleted words still count. I’m constantly deleting the previous sentence because I thought of a better way to reword it. Also it works for editing. I do my editing in scrivener and then copy over the previous text. The program is smart enough to take the diff and count the words that have been added to the scene in the new copy.

A NaNoWriMo monster for the daily average wordcount

A NaNoWriMo monster for the daily average wordcount

There is a NaNoWriMo event going on now, with special monsters and collectibles. Because they have been trying out some new features, there have been some bugs that the programmers have needed to work out. But they are pretty responsive, and keep everybody informed. Some of the gameplay isn’t intuitive, but there are forums where I’ve been able to get my questions answered just by reading around.

This site makes money on a subscription basis. Everyone gets 1 month free trial. After that, a month costs $3-$4 depending on how much you buy in bulk. You can get a free month for referring a friend. My referral code is RPFFF07932 and if you wish to friend me, my username is Reigheena. I’ve just paid to continue, and I’d love to see you there!

Hugo 2018 Reading – October

I’ve gotten into the swing of things with school starting this month. But I’ve gotten really far behind on my podcasts. So I spend a lot of time listening to Writing Excuses to catch up. I’m glad that I still managed to get my short stories in for the month. I actually liked them all. Just not quite enough to give any five stars.

Rain Ship” by Chi Hui
a novelette published by Clarkesworld

This story had an interesting world – rat-like aliens called Rudera are excavating spaceships left behind by “ancient [spacefaring] humans” which are now extinct. I also liked how the author used footnotes to explain the different customs the Rudera have so that the normal narrative could still flow seamlessly. It had mercenaries, pirates, backstabbing, making for an action-packed plot. I’m not sure why I didn’t completely connect with it. Maybe its how detached Jin was. It fits her, though.


The Lies I’ve Told to Keep You Safe” by Matt Dovey
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

This story packs quite a punch in a short space. The lies tell the story of the progression of an alien invasion of earth, and also indirectly comment on how short-term assuagement of these kinds of lies may not be best in the long run. There’s nothing really wrong with this story. I just wanted more from it, but for the form its in, it did a good job.


James, in the Golden Sunlight of the Hereafter” by Adam-Troy Castro
a short story published by Lightspeed

This story had some great description to it. It’s not how I believe in heaven and hell, so I had to set those aside for this story. It made me think about what paradise really means, and had a nice take. I felt like the pacing was a little slow than I prefer, which is why I didn’t give it a 5.


Bonsai” by Shaenon K. Garrity
a short story published by PodCastle

It took me awhile to realize that this story is told in second person. It works though, to give that feeling of detachment that comes with shock when you’ve received news of cancer while still feeling connected to the character. The treatment for cancer was quite innovative – grow a plant inside you that will feed on the tumor. It has a good callback to Greek myths. This is the story I’m most tempted to give 5 stars to. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as the others I’ve given 5 stars. Maybe because I was wondering for awhile when the speculative element was going to come in.

Goal for 25 Rejections Reached!

I hit my goal to receive 25 rejections this year. Sadly, I didn’t come close to the other condition of my goal – getting professional publication. Oh well. There are still 2 months and 10 days left, so who knows?

Last year, I got 26 rejections, 5 of which were personal. (I count personal as anything that is above and beyond a regular rejection. So honorable mention in Writers of the Future counts, but the personal comments from Fantasy & Science Fiction and Beneath Ceaseless Skies don’t) So far this year, I’ve received 6 personals, which makes me quite happy, since some of these were at markets I hadn’t received a personal before.

I currently have 4 outstanding submissions, 3 of which I expect to hear back from before the end of the year. I also expect to send this latest rejected story back out, once I’ve decided on the best place. Maybe I’ll hit 30 rejections by new year’s. Just have to wait and see.

Stats:

  • 8 stories, 1 poem (128% of 2016)
  • 18 markets (85% of 2016)
  • 6 personal rejections (120% of 2016)
  • 1 acceptance (50% of 2016)

Hugo 2018 Reading – September

Schedules have changed once again and we are settling into new routines as kids go back to school. I’ve been slack on my reading and listening, but here’s what I got to.

How the Maine Coon Cat Learned to Love the Sea” by Seanan McGuire
a short story published by Uncanny

This was a sweet fable type story about cats (which I love). Very fun to see the transformation of puffy cloud-like Angora cats to Maine Coon cats.


(5 stars) “That Lingering Sweetness” by Tony Pi
a novelette published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This was a really fun story about breaking a curse. Full of magic inspired by Chinese culture. I was a little worried about understanding things since I hadn’t read the other stories about this character, but it stood alone very well. The plot had intriguing and interesting twists.


(5 stars) “The Eternal Army” by M. K. Hutchins
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

I really liked this story of the army of undead summoned in the near future to fight for Rome. The twist in circumstance was unexpected and delightful for the contrast in circumstances we normally see undead armies in.


The Library of Lost Things” by Matthew Bright
a short story published by Tor.com

Libraries of lost tomes are common, but this one had a richness to it, from sorting things by the manner they were lost (burned, author death, hard drive crash), to the speaking rats, to the expectation that employees be uninterested, which Tom pretends to be for his own end. The style was also interesting with the “And then” paragraphs to show Tom pretending to not care. Well done.

2 Flowers v 3 is Done!

2 flowers banner copySoon after I finished v 2, I realized that to fix the conflict, I needed to cut the entire first scene. The conflict in it distracted from the conflict I wanted to focus on. Bonus, cutting it meant that this would qualify as flash fiction. The downside is that many people thought the first scene was the best written, so it was a darling, and I cut it anyway.

I really like how this has shaped up as flash. It still needs a bit of polish work on it, and then I’ll send it out to the markets.

Stats

  • Started September 19
  • Finished September 20
  • 900 words (65.6% of v 2)
  • 2 scenes (66.7% of v 2)

Hugo 2018 Reading – August

Another busy month getting kids ready for school (when I wasn’t keeping them from fighting each other) and going to Oregon to see the solar eclipse (so cool!). Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to anything this month that I really loved, but here’s what I got to.

Sunwake, in the Lands of Teeth” by Juliette Wade
a novella published by Clarkesworld

I really liked the perspective of the dog-like aliens in this novel. The way their language worked, and their senses all felt real. For some reason, I wasn’t invested in the plot, but it did have some intrigue and suspense.


The Stone Lover” by Marta Randall
a short story published by Lightspeed

I’m a bit of a prude, so this story was not for me. I should have seen it from the title. Ah well. It was well written, and I did enjoy seeing the queen get her comeuppance.

Trigger warning: sexual acts


Crickets Sing for Naomi” by Eden Royce
a short story published by PodCastle

Naomi seemed to just be a witness for much of the story, so I didn’t get very interested in her. I did like the way things turned out in the end.


A Slumbering Storm” by Rafaela Ferraz
a short story published by Strange Horizons

I kept expecting this story to turn horror, but it didn’t, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it until reader Anaea Lay mentioned the metaphorical examination of getting treatment for depression. Thinking back on it, I can see that it’s pretty accurate.

2 Flowers v 2 is Done!

2 flowers banner copy
It took me much longer than I thought to get this draft done. I still haven’t quite nailed the characterization in it, which makes the conflict feel weak. I’m not sure I will before the deadline for Writers of the Future, but I’m going to do my best. For now, I’m going to work on some personal projects while it is out at beta readers.

Stats:

  • Started July 28
  • Finished August 17
  • 1,371 words (110% of v 1)
  • 3 scenes (100% of v 1)

Hugo Reading 2018 – July

July involved a lot of travel for me, which allowed me to get a lot of reading done. However, I was focused more on beating down my three-years-long reading list than reading things published in the last year. Still, I didn’t have to play catchup when it was time to write this post, so that’s something. Here’s what I got through:

(5 stars) “The Chaos Village” by M. K. Hutchins
a novelette published by PodCastle

Rob is a character with many similarities to someone on the autism spectrum. It was really nice to have that sort of character be the protagonist of the story instead of a side character. I loved his interest in the ever changing world and how he tried to make sense of how gravity seems to go down only sometimes, even if the other characters did get annoyed at his questions. The conflicts were interesting, though I was able to guess at how some of them would be solved.


Welcome to Astuna” by Pip Coen
a short story published by Apex

The conflict of this story is really interesting. Woman wakes up in bed, thinking she’s been drugged, then realizes she’s lost 15 years worth of memories. Characterization is really good, keeping her feeling like a college freshman when her body is older. And I loved the twist at the end when she regains her memories.

Trigger warning: strong language


Masterclass” by Cassandra Khaw
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

This story failed me on two accounts. The first is my fault for not being familiar with the Dragon Lady stereotype. Having researched it afterwards, I can see that this is a nice way of Asian women owning that trope and breathing fire. The second is that the fantastic element is more metaphorical than substantive like I prefer.


Two Bodies in Basting Stitch” by Allison Jamieson-Lucy
a short story published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This story has many similarities to my story “Soulmates” so I really want to take it apart and study it. My first impression wasn’t super, as I found it hard to tell in audio when we were in the present and when we were in flashback. Sere’s despair felt real – I couldn’t see a way out for her – as did the attraction and anger in her relationship with Tashet.