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Posts tagged ‘Short Stories’

Dear Robot Blog Hop – #iamhuman

This blog post is part of a blog hop for the Dear Robot Anthology. Please click here for details on the editor, Kelly Ann Jacobson, inspiration for the anthology and to links to other contributor’s stories. There is also a Goodreads sponsored giveaway until December 10th.

You know you want to get this book! Who doesn’t want a free book?

Here’s the story behind the story –

The ticket that started it all.

One year ago, on a cold December night, a handful of fantasy authors and their supporters gathered together in a local writing center. The night was the book release for the anthology Magical. I came to support my fellow contributors with a couple of friends and my mom in tow. The reading was fun and after, when we all were chatting and swapping autographs, the editor, Kelly, let it slip she had thought about another anthology.

“I’m thinking some science fiction,” she said.
“Ooo,” I said. “That sounds interesting.”
“Yeah, but I’m not sure yet. Anthologies are so much work. I’ll have to see.”

After that night, I didn’t think much about the antho. My final class for my MA was coming up and I had to shift my attention to my other stories. In no time spring came, my class was done, and I graduated. Kelly’s e-mail about her new anthology submission call came about a month later in June.

My first thought was, Epistolary Science Fiction????

Now that was new.

To be honest, my brain was fried in June. I was out of ideas and more focused on my brother’s up coming wedding rather than coming up with a brand new story. So I pushed it to the back of my mind. I had time. I would think of something.

In July, I felt more refreshed and ready to write. Sometime in the first week or so, a couple of odd things happened. First I went through some of my old papers, and by old I mean OVER 5 years. I found a few abandoned stories I never finished, but there was a story I wrote in 2005 or 2006 that I couldn’t find. I had thought maybe I would finish it.

Sadly, I think somewhere in the three household moves I’ve made in the last ten years the story got lost. Maybe tossed away in a stack of papers I thought were worthless. I was bummed because I loved the idea of that story, but I had never had a clear vision of how to finish it. I imaged an earth far in the future, where people had flexible genders, flexible sexuality, and flexible ethnicities. It was a daunting task to describe a world like this (mostly because I had to think about how this world would come into being in a realistic way) and keep it in the realm of short story. It was the kind of story I couldn’t write in my twenties, but could now in my thirties (or at least wanted to try).

So I stripped away the previous story (had to there were no reference points for me to refresh my memory) and instead focused on exploring the world’s origins. The pre-story, if you will. What would the early days of this new reality look like? Why would humans change themselves?

The second event was a late night idea I had of a teenage girl, who was getting surgery to get into college. I saw her clearly, red-hair, freckles, and reading a thick paperback waiting nervously for her doctor. Why was she there? I wanted to know more.

Combine those two ideas and my love of long form essays, and you have my story “#iamhuman.” I wrote it in a blistering three day focus, set it aside for a week, read it over, and sent it to Kelly.

A few weeks later, she accepted it.

Dear Robot Anthology

Dear Robot ImageMy short story is in the new anthology Dear Robot. Get it here.

Here’s the full Table of Contents:

2 GOD ARTICLE by Rafael S.W
3 WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE by Misha Herwin
4 DRINK, KILL, CONTRACT by Michelle Vider
6 SLEEP FOREVER by Tabitha Sin
7 DODONA 2.0 by Llanwyre Laish
9 DUO-13-TRIP by Marlena Chertock
10 DEAR R.A.Y. by Tanya Bryan
12 WELCOME TO OASIS by Terri Bruce
13 AL’S ROBOT REPAIR by Bruce Markuson
14 USGITP COMMUNIQUE #544 ERC by Johnna Schmidt
15 THE INSTITUTE by Diana Smith Bolton
18 #IAMHUMAN by Christina Keller
19 COUNTDOWN (MY DEAR ONE) by Jacquelyn Bengfort

Mid-September Post 2015 – Two Challenges at Once!

Mid month update. No movement on the submissions, except I got one more rejection. But, I mailed that story right back out. The rest are still out in the world.

Here’s the numbers:

Submissions: 12
Acceptances: 0
Rejections: 24

We are ¾ of the way through the year, so I’m sure I’m not going to get a hundred rejections, but maybe I’ll get 30 or 40? Maybe I’ll get at least one acceptance? One can hope.

My other challenge isn’t going so well. I started off strong, but somewhere around September 10, I fell behind. It’s not the writing that is hard, it’s the finishing. So now I have two unfinished stories sitting on my table. I opted to keep working on those rather than start yet another story. I suppose I could write a couple of flash fiction under five hundred words to catch up, but I’d rather finish up these two stories that I really like and am excited about.

What ever happens I’m glad I decided to do this. Like I said in my earlier post, there is something satisfying about finishing. I will have more new stories and I can submit those and add them to my challenge.

I would count the stories, but it’s getting late. I think I have 12(?) right now. Not too bad. Just a few stories behind.

A nice break from the longer story. In October, I will get back to that.

Changes that Add Up

Five days in to this challenge and I’m realizing how good of an idea this is. There is something satisfying about finishing a story and starting fresh. I’ve always liked that feeling. It’s always hard to finish, especially when you have such a long way to go in longer pieces, but the beauty of this challenge is that everyday I get to start fresh. The other story is done and now I have something new to look forward too.

So far I have finished 4 this month. Right now I decided to take a break and write this post before I finish the rest of story #5. It’s a longer short story that I saved especially for the weekend. Weeknights, after a long day at work, I don’t have the patience for a story over 3K. But on the weekends, I can space it out over the day. Some in the morning. Go out and run a few errands. Come home and write more. Do laundry. Write more. Write the blog post. Etc.

I can’t say all these stories will be good. But some will. Some will be fun and interesting. But I will have a lot. I will practice my craft. Create, create, create. I get that now. I understand that my stories will not be produced in a rush of brilliance. They will be mined after millions of words written. They will grow from the millions of stories I write.

I read a couple of interesting articles this week. (I’ll link them below.) One was about what I’ve already talked about with writing and practicing your craft (Rusch). She writes it much better than me, so I won’t summarize. But the other story I read this morning really hit home with me.

A British cyclist team decided to improve everything in their lives by 1%. Not only did they start winning, but they did it, not with radical changes, but small ones that added up over time. For me, it just hammers home the idea that small changes add up over time. Sort of like the old saying, if you write a page a day, you will have a novel by the end of the year.

I may not be able to write a story everyday for the rest of my life. Illness, travel, family issues, or just life in general will come along and throw off my schedule. But that one percent improvement, that will move me forward. That change will add up.

Business Musing Column by Kristine Kathryn Rusch= A great column I discovered a few months ago.
Productivity Article in the Entrepreneur

End of February 2015 Update & Trunked Stories

This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but I forgot. Nothing changed in February. No rejections came in, nor did I mail anything else out. I think the cold weather and the snow slowed everyone down. I know I feel like a slowpoke.

Rejections: 11
Acceptances: 0
Submissions: 8

One thing I didn’t mention last time concerned a flash fiction piece I have trunked. I like the story, but I have learned that even the mere mention of vampires (even if there isn’t a character in the story!) makes most editors roll their eyes. After getting comments about how they are sick of vampires (again just mentioned, not actually what the story was about or even an important plot point), I realized that this story needs to sit for a while. Too many other writers are sending these stories out, and I can’t expect my story to be treated any better.

It’s a hard thing to let a story go. I have a few that I wrote years ago, but I probably will never rewrite them. I want to work on projects that I am excited by and not cling to works that are flawed and might never been very good. Part of me used to believe that, given enough time, the story will work itself out. But I’m not so sure anymore. Sometimes, I think I just didn’t write a good story.

Yeah, sometimes I write bad stories.

For whatever reason, I needed to write it down. But I can’t treat every piece like a precious, unbreakable object. Sometimes I just write a story to see if I can write in a certain style or subject matter. The challenge interests me.

Now I realize, not all of those stories should be shared. Or maybe I shouldn’t try and sell them. I can always put them up on this site. The two stories up right now, I chose to share because I didn’t think I should sell them anywhere else. Comfort Zone has the main character die at the end and that is so overused, no one would want it. (Although I still like it and am quite proud.) Triton’s Fist was written for a contest and I didn’t like the idea of sending out such a specific story anywhere else. I’ve heard editors are annoyed when they get left over stories from contests. It was a short, creepy story I enjoyed, so up it when too.

I guess I am learning to let go. Not every story I write will be successful. The important point is that I keep writing, because I do have some stories that I think are very good. I realize not that I will never run out of ideas. In the past, I worried about this. But thanks to my challenge last year, I know this is not true. Just when I think I have run out, I get two more. (or more!)

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
–Leonardo da Vinci

Never did that quote ring more true than now. This story will be put aside with the others. Those stories that I find interesting, but I don’t want to put any more thought or energy into them. Maybe I wrote them just for fun, or maybe I thought it would turn into something more significant. All I know for sure – I am done (for now) and I have other work to do.

The Anthology is Now Available to Buy

A winter cold sidelined me for the post on the 5th. Tis the season for bad heath, right? Luckily, it was mild with only a stuffed up nose and nothing more serious like the flu. (I did get my flu shot, so all in all, not too bad.)

But, some big developments have happened in the first ten days of November. The biggest is that the anthology I’m in is now available for purchase. You can buy it here. Feel free to browse the “look inside” feature and read the sample stories. Kelly did a fantastic job on the book and I am very proud to be a part of it with all the other talented writers.

Other big news concerns my graduate school status. On November 3rd, I registered for my thesis class. I’m coming to the end of my time at JHU. This fall semester has flown by and now I have just a little over a month left. Come January, I will be at the beginning of the end. In a strange coincidence, by the time I graduate from JHU, it will be exactly 20 years after I graduated from high school.

I would make some joke here about being old, but in this day and age, everybody is going back to school. Age is just a number. The mind always wants to learn.