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January Round Up 2015

Just a quick post here to update my writing challenge.

Rejections: 6

Acceptances: 0

Submissions: 10

I have two more pending for submission, but one still needs to be typed up and for the other, I am waiting until February 1 for the market to open. I think things are coming along nicely so far, but if I want to hit 100 rejections, I need to submit more.

My writing took a hit this month. A few days ago, classes started up and I am now in full swing for my final class for my degree. I spent most of my time this month working on my stories for class. New material had to be put aside. That’s a bummer, but I don’t think I would’ve changed things. I am learning there are times when you just need to focus on the tasks at hand and not worry about the perfect situation. In a perfect world, I would have time for everything… but we all know that doesn’t exist. So I get done, what I get done.

And the next day, I try again.

It Begins Here – One Year, One Hundred Rejections

"To Do" Board

“To Do” Board

Well folks, we are half way through the first month of the year and already the rejections are piling up. Just today I got two more. I’ve been thinking – How am I going to keep track of my progress? I can keep a running tally on my “To Do” board. (See above pic.) But I also want to keep track of my progress.

So I’ve decided that every month on the 15th and the 30th (25 for February) I will post an update on my rejection process. Remember, I’m trying to hit 100 by the end of the year. Will it work? Who knows. The point is to get me to submit, submit, submit.

Here is my tally as of January 15, 2015:

Rejections: 4

Acceptances: 0

Pieces still out for submission: 5

Ah, so small! I need to submit more, but since two came in today, I haven’t had a chance to send them out. Hopefully by this weekend I can get them out, along with three more. So by the 18th, the “Submission” line should be 10.

One big problem is my very bad habit of writing long hand. With the exception of longer works, I almost always write the story out by hand. Now, many of the stories I wrote last year need to be typed up. I’ve been slacking on this and now I have 2 stories written (with notes and everything) that need to be transcribed. And at the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do is spend more time in front of the computer. That’s why writing long hand appeals to me. I don’t have to sit at the computer. I can write anywhere and don’t feel like a zombie.

Still, I think 4 rejections is a nice start. One came as a form rejection. Two were the “if you haven’t heard from us by X date, you can assume you are rejected”. But the last was a personal rejection, with the editor saying he enjoyed the story, but competition was tough and my story didn’t make the cut. He ended the note telling me to please submit again (I definitely will.) and wished me luck.

See, that kind of stuff makes this challenge fun.

Oh, and I’ve noticed that I have a few more people following this blog. I just wanted to say “Hi!” and thanks for stopping by to read my blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts on my life as a fiction writer. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

And for kicks, I leave you with my submission tracker that hangs on my board. This was not everything I submitted in 2014 (I only started tracking pieces during the summer.), but it is the majority. I know, I know. I’m so high tech…

Writing Pics 001

Books that Inspire Me #3

Kindred Book 001

Today I saw the movie Selma and thought it was a great film. It shines the spotlight on a moment in the civil rights history. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about for this column, but then I started thinking about writers that have paved the way for me.

Octavia Butler is one of them.

I never really knew what kind of writer I was until I wrote a story about 15 years ago. It was the first time I wrote something that really embodied who I was as a writer. After, I was proud of myself, but didn’t know what to do next. I wasn’t even sure if it was a good story. So I enrolled in a community writing workshop and submitted the story. On the whole, I got a lot of great feedback, but there was one woman (Carol was her name I think), who really explained it to me.

You write magical realism,” she said looking directly at me.

I had never heard that term before. You have to remember that up until that point in my life I spent four years in college studying literature from pre-1950. The closest I got to current novels was an Amy Tan book I read for a one credit reading class. Terms like magical realism were lost on me. So, to the internet I went and after a few days, a whole new world opened up to me. Not just magical realism, but science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I’ve already posted a few times about books that emerged from my searching. Kindred is another.

Funny enough, plenty of my family already knew and loved Butler’s work. Both my mother and aunts had read her. When I mentioned to my Mom if she had ever heard of Butler, she replied, “Oh yes! She’s great. Here, I have a few.”

I started with Clay’s Ark and Mind of My Mind. They are solidly in the SF world. But it was Kindred and more subtle, controlled urban fantasy story that hooked me as a fan. It deals with social issues like race, gender, and family. It has fantasy elements, but is solidly rooted in the real world. All of Butler’s characters are complex. No one is all bad, or all good. I won’t give the plot away, but it is easy to see why many consider this story to be her best. (Note: If anyone knows Oprah or Brad Pitt, tell them about this story. THIS REALLY NEEDS TO BE A MOVIE.)

Signed Copy of Mind of My Mind

Signed Copy of Mind of My Mind

In 2004, I was lucky enough to see her speak in person. I remember waiting in line for her to sign my book. I can’t lie. I was starstruck being in front of her. (And Samuel Delany was there too, but I didn’t have any of my books for him to sign. To this day, that bums me out.) She was a true superstar writer and gone too soon. She died about 14 months after I saw her.

Signed Copy Clay's Ark

Signed Copy Clay’s Ark

I love Tolkien. I love George R.R. Martin. I love Brandon Sanderson and Neil Gaiman. But I think it is important that there be diversity in literature, both characters and the writers themselves. Octavia Butler was not just a great writer, but also added much needed diversity to the speculative writing world. Today there are many writers of color in the speculative field writing and publishing their books. I should know because I collect them and I am one of them.

And we all owe Butler our thanks.