Daily Update #35

Well, well, well….  Here we are in 2016.  Another year in the books, another year of writing under my belt.

(Muse:  Another year where you failed to sell a book, chump.)

Love and kisses to you too, sunshine.  Since it is a new year, just a few tidbits to start things off.

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– Way back in this post, I made some goals for 2015:

  • Get Pilgrimage to Skara published
  • Make three short story sales.
  • Finish Princess of the North.

Sadly, I didn’t quite make any of these goals.  On the first, self-doubt, that boogeyman that affects so many of us, started rearing its beady-eyed little head.  Some things I read about self-publishing really made me doubt myself and as a result, I chickened out.  I did get two sales this year, so that was good.  And I logged 60K words into Princess.  Again, good, but bad that I didn’t finish.

– I am going to forgo setting goals this year.  Don’t worry, I will keep plugging away but we have a lot going on the home front, with some projects I am working with Mrs. Axe.  So it will be a more fluid year.

– The other day, I read some discussion on the true definition of steampunk.  To me, what’s not remarkable is that so many people have diametrically opposed views on which elements constitute a fiction sub-genre.  What is remarkable is the vigor with which people dismiss opposing viewpoints and cleave to the notion that only people that agree with them hold the one true view.  Writers are supposed to be more open-minded.  Who knew?

(Muse:  Sarcasm much?)

Always.

– I see that Tor.com is closing to short story submissions – as of tomorrow (7 Jan), in fact.  I understand their position:  too much good fiction coming in from known sources to wade through the slush pile of the great unwashed.  Understood, but still disappointing.

– It looks like I am going to have some networking opportunities with a published author here in the near future.  Different genre than my normal spec fiction but a) it never hurts to know people and b) I might learn something or get some feedback.  Pending the author’s approval, maybe I will blog about it later this month.

Tucson Festival of Books is coming up in mid-March.  I am going to set myself up now and I say I will try to live tweet the event.  I will have a blog post on this when we get closer.

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Before I call it quits here, I have an anecdote that is a few months old but is still illustrative.  I got a call from a good friend, who is a bibliophile and reads some of my stories from time to time.  I sent him one that I didn’t think much of; it felt rushed and incomplete to me.  He enjoyed the tale so much that he was felt compelled to actually call (versus email or text) and tell me how much he liked it.  And I thought it sucked.

Further proof (as if we needed it) that you just never know what’s going to pique someone’s interest.

All for now, friends.  Keep on going and be well!

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Daily Update #34

So ….

What did Ferris Bueller say?   “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I feel like that sometimes when if comes to writing, especially when I look at my blog and guiltily notice is has been almost two weeks since I posted.  Yes, I accept any and all beatings.  Anyway….

– I still have some submissions out.  I did nine through the first quarter, so on track for 36 for the year.  Not bad.  No acceptances yet and I did get a rejection just yesterday on a piece I really thought was going to make it.  I am still confused as to what the publishing world wants.  I recently read a professionally published piece that was beautifully written – lyrical, really.  Better than anything I’ve written.  But there was no story there.  It was description only.  I had to scratch my head at that.

Pilgrimage to Skara….  Well, I have been trying to agent it for over a year, so now I am going to proceed on my own.  It will take some time, but I am assembling my marketing strategy, getting a cover made, etc.  We’ll see what happens.  Work on Princess of the North proceeds, though slowly.  I still expect to finish before the year is over.

– I am the king of underperforming when it comes to word counts but last month, I went the other way.  I wrote a story about an old man and a young girl forming a father-daughter relationship which, at 5700 words, felt like it could have gone another 1500 or so.  Long story and one I will probably never place but it was fun to write.

– I finally started a Twitter account (feed on the right side here).  Social media is hard for us old guys to grasp.  But I picked up some followers I did not recognize right away.  Networking isn’t just about shaking hands anymore, is it?

– I watched the premiere season of Daredevil on Netflix this weekend.  It was pretty good; if a viewer liked Arrow on the CW, they’d probably like this.  It’s similar but bloodier.   You know, the major networks better pay attention.  Other TV show sources, like Netflix, AMC, CW, and FX are putting out a lot of high-quality programming.  ABC/NBC/CBS/Fox are not going to be able survive on the triad of reality TV, sitcoms, and cop/lawyer/hospital shows forever.  The demographic that watches that is going to die off or get bored.

– On that note, Avengers: Age of Utron is only a few weeks out.  If I were a fangirl, I would squeal with joy.  Okay, I’ll squeal anyway.

Anyway, that’s about all for my random ruminations today.  Be good, dear friends.

Daily Update #33

I haven't done one of these for a while, so I figured it was time.

– Regardless of some rumors to the contrary, I am still writing and still working on projects.  The other day, I spun out 2500 words on Princess of the North in just a few hours, and really without much trouble.  That just makes me want to work on it a little more.  I also wrote a 1400 words story on a mother waiting for some terrible news about her child and her mind goes into really dark places.  This has been a theme the last few years with me:  writing some really dark stuff involving parents and their children.  Guess it's just a phase.

– I still have Pilgrimage out with agents for query.  I have not given up – not even close – but so far, I have still have gotten nothing back but form rejections and non-responses.  I am going to give it a bit longer.

– This has been an up and down year for short story rejections.  On the one hand, with the major life events (house fire, leaving the military, etc.) I have still gotten 16 submissions out, with the first one not going out until 31 May.  So far, I haven't sold one.  This is a little disconcerting; since I started submitting my work way back in 2007, I was able to sell at least one piece a year, even if just for a pittance.  I might be breaking that trend this year.  Ouch.

– It is sometimes amazing just how much time one can spend in front of a computer.  I recently took a hiatus from a message board (unrelated to writing) that I frequented.  I suddenly have a lot more time on my hands, to do other things.  As I said, amazing.

– Have you been watching this season of The Walking Dead?  Just when I thought that show could not get any more grim, they found a way ….

Not a terrible much of an update.  I'll find something interesting to say next time.

Daily Update #32

Ugh, what an unbelievable couple of weeks.  Our house, sequestered on our wondrous acreage in the southwestern desert, caught fire.  The personal property damage was not very extensive but the damage to the house itself is bad.  It will take about six months to get repaired and Mrs. Axe is having to deal with being in a strange temporary house without me there.  Three more months to retirement.

Anyway:

– Progress on Pilgrimage has been slow due to the events mentioned above.  Heh, every time I think I am going to get it together, something happens.  I’ll keep at it.

– I now have two stories that are held for final decision by their respective magazines.  Neither are pro-paying mags but both are venues in good esteem, that I’ve been trying to pierce for some time.  Good steps, we’ll see what happens from here.

– While traveling recently, I read Brandon Sanderson’s latest, Steelheart.  It was okay.  I give it to Sanderson:  he is an absolute ace at creating glum, dystopian worlds with a very desperate climate.  His execution, though …

– With the rash of super hero movies coming out, I thought this blog entry about the five worst Avengers ever was kind of amusing.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t read anything else on this site, so …. yeah, I take no responsibility for your wanderings.)  It is a shame we will have an Ant Man movie before a Wonder Woman movie – or as another site put it, before we can have a superhero movie with “Woman” in the name, we have to have a movie about a character most famous for being a woman beater.  Can you tell I don’t like Ant Man?

– A few months back, Apex Magazine ran a contest for a 250-word spec fiction tale related to Christmas.  Figuring, “What the hell,” I whipped up a quick tale.  I did not win, obviously, so here is what I entered:

Another Year
The candy cane did not object when it was dumped from the box into a heap with its insensate kin.
It did not protest when the woman hung it from the tree branch.  The scents of pine sap and the burnt ozone of cheap electric lights swamped its senses but the cane told itself, “Patience.”
It did not lash out when the cat, malicious beast that it was, batted the cane loose from the branch.  Claws scored its surface and the cane’s mute rage swelled.  But the cane endured, and the child chased the cat away, returning the cane to the branch.  The cane told itself, “Just wait.”
Then at last, its time came.  The child came to the tree and pointed.  “Mommy, can I have a candy cane?”
The woman nodded.  The child walked around the tree, eyes roaming across the selections.  The cane shrieked in the vaults of its mind.  “I’m here!  Take me!”
The child reached out.  The cane trembled in anticipation – then shuddered as the child plucked up another, one of plain sugar and corn syrup.  “I want this one.”
The cane sighed.  It did not move as the tree withered and faded.  It did not object as the woman replaced it in the box, along with its mindless brethren.  The dark spirit within, waiting to be unleashed into the body of an innocent, was patient.  Christmas would come again.
The box lid closed.  The candy cane told itself, “Next year.”
And it waited.

Not bad, eh?

Ah well.  Thanks dear friends for allowing me to vomit my latest ramblings.

Daily Update #31

So ….

I had a long post written about taking chances and sticking your neck out as a writer but I just wasn't feeling it.  Instead, I am sitting her flipping channels between watching my alma mater struggle in football and a rerun of Transformers.  But anyway:

– My output has been pitiful this month.  No further words needed.

– My plans for Pilgrimage are going to get pushed back.  For various reasons, my test readers have not panned out so far and I know it needs some revision.  I still plan on doing NaNoWriMo in a few days, so I have to shelve it at least until December.

– Speaking of which, I think I have my concept and general plot line down for NaNoWriMo and I am kind of excited to get on with it.  Starts Friday.

– I received an interesting rejection letter from one publication.  I had received a previous one from that same venue some months ago that had said that aspects of the story were good, they enjoyed the dialogue, but it wasn't right for them.  Okay.  So I ended up submitting a different story.  My rejection letter?  Same verbiage.  Makes me wonder how much they "enjoyed" the dialogue, since that seems to be part of the form letter.

– On a message board I frequent, I offered some advice to a question asked, only to be passive-aggressively insulted by a third poster (who essentially belittled every response by a male to the question).  I was really pissed for a little bit but part of my mind was churned and coalesced around a story plot line.  Turning a negative into a positive….

That's all for now.

Daily Update #30

Okay, so not a ton to report:

– I finished my story "The Burning Man" and gave it off to a friend for review.  The seed is there, I just don't have it quite right yet.  The theme is somewhat Nietzsche-an, in the context of fighting monsters.  I'll have to keep revising it because this might be one of my best ones.

– I am ready to revise "Pilgrimage to Skara."  Since I finished back in Apr, I've made some additional notes and figured out a way to expand some of the political intrigue and basically tighten it up.  Mrs. Axe is still visiting so I have been spending time with her vice working on it.  She'll head back to the desert in a week.  The goal is to finish my revisions and have it submitted to my first publisher by Halloween.

– The reason I want to be done by Halloween is I have every intention of doing NaNoWriMo this year.  I wanted to the last two years and sluffed it off due to my trip to the Middle East.  Not this time.  I have an idea ready (a few, actually) and am actually psyched about it.

– Richard Matheson died this last week.  After reading I am Legend and What Dreams May Come, I can say that he was one of my distinct influences.  One of the best compliments one of my stories ever received was a favorable comparison to his work.  It seems like every week we lose one of the giants….

– I really like my smart phone.  Mrs. Axe and I resisted for a long time with our old flip phones but finally, under pressure from our boy, got with the 21st century.  It's useful.  While driving not too long ago, I was able to use the voice-to-text to capture the details of a story idea (think a 1920s muscle beach but with steam-driven cyborgs) before I forgot it.  Makes me wonder what else I could do with technology if I stopped fighting it.

– I fixed my link on the left to Brandon Sanderson's site.  It was pointed to the site for comic book artist Brandon Peterson.  Artists and authors all look alike, right?  Anyway, it's fixed now.

That's all, friends.  Good day!

Daily Update #29

So ….

Been a few days since I posted.  Not a whole lot has gone on lately but this is probably my last entry before the end of the month; I'll be taking a sabbatical for a few weeks to do some heavy renovation on the ole' homestead and will probably be too exhausted to do much writing.

– I've been unusually prolific in my submissions, with about six stories out in the last week.  No responses back yet but you have to start somewhere.  One of them is from my writing exercise (see this entry), a fun little YA-level tale involving witches and high school.  The storyline has potential for expansion.

– I'm trying a writing exercise in second person this week, first time I've done it in a long time.  It's … a struggle.  I might post it up here once done, for comments.

– Evil Dead remake.  I saw it.  Meh.  As usual, it is often best not to mess with classics – even cult classics.  They are known as classics for a reason.

– I just read via NeNe Thomas's blog that artist Quinton Hoover passed away a few weeks ago.  Damn, that sucks.  Hoover was only only 49 and had a very brisk style that I much appreciated.  The fantasy art world is poorer for his passing.  It's been a rough couple of weeks; former SFWA president Andrew Offutt also died a few days ago.

– I still have yet to get caught up on watching Game of Thrones.  Driving me batty, since some of my cube-mates insist on talking about it in loud tones on Monday mornings.  I usually choose that moment to grab my coffee and take a brisk stroll.

– I was at a going-away party last night for a friend.  A bunch of people made fun of my cell phone cover (seen here), specifically because it apparently is not "manly."  They all ended up calling me "Aquaman" due to the color.  I care not; I like the cover and I am keeping it.  Besides, Mrs. Axe appreciates that I am capable of running power tools and hanging drywall one moment, and accessorizing my phone the next.

(Muse:  What does that have to do with writing?)

Nothing, I just like the story.

Anyway, dear friends, hang loose and perhaps I will drop in sometime in the next few weeks.  Cheer-i-o!