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After the Rain

I walked in the forest after an overnight rainstorm the other day. Here are the lovelies I saw greeting me alongside the path:

mush1

 

mush2 mush3The other things greeting me were mosquitos. Hundreds of them would descend upon me if I stopped to gather some blueberries, or when I lingered to take pictures of the mushrooms. Even just walking along, they’d home in on my exhalations and dive at my face. Not pleasant. It wasn’t a long walk that day.

But not being long didn’t mean it didn’t smell absolutely wonderful while I was there. It was as if the air was perfumed with heavenly flowers, lush–no, almost plush with heady fragrance. The spiky flowers releasing that scent don’t look lavish, but my oh my do they smell divine. (sorry, the phone camera decided the branch behind the flower was more important to focus on, and the mosquitos weren’t letting me linger for a second shot)

scenting

This is Clethra alnifolia, aka summersweet. I had a dwarf variety planted in my Ohio garden, but the one pictured here was the native, wild variety–taller than me and loaded with fragrant flowers. They grow in profusion along the pathways in the Shark River Park. Sometimes the scent was so strong that it carried a good distance on the humid breeze. Mmmm. Nice.

See–wild berries to eat, cool mushrooms to view, great flowers to smell, and mosquitos to keep you moving right along. Walking in the park is good for more than just the soul! 🙂

 

Also, just a small note: in case you haven’t noticed, it’s August 1st. That means July is over (strange how that works, isn’t it?). If you’ve been paying attention, I mentioned here that I intended to write 25,000 words in July, despite chaos from trying to close on a house long-distance. How did I do? I made it! Yesterday I wrote the last few hundred words necessary (and a few hundred more, ’cause I was on a roll in the scene!), to make my grand total just over 60,000 words! Woo hoo! Today I celebrated by buying mini ice cream bars! The sweet taste of success-most literally.

 

 

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Silence in the Library’s Stretch Deal

Exciting news! Silence in the Library Publishing is right now running a Kickstarter for their next anthology, HEROS!  From the Kickstarter page: HEROS! is “a collection of short fiction about superheroes, not-so-super heroes, and everyday people who find the hero within.”

Since I’m not in this anthology, how does this relate to me? Sidekicks!, an anthology I am a part of, is now being offered as a stretch goal. If 350 people sign on to support HEROS!, they will be rewarded with a free copy of Sidekicks!…and they’re almost there! There are 19 days left, the project is fully funded already, and as I write, there are 344 backers. So, if this sounds like exciting  reading to you, I urge you to support the effort and get Sidekicks! thrown in for free!

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Links to Get You Thru the Midweek Slump

I’ve got a few links to fun, informative, or otherwise interesting things to help tide you over ’til the warmth returns (it got *cold,* darn it!) and the weekend rolls near.

Let’s start with fun. Do you like webcams? Do you like wildlife? Then check out the bald eagle nest camera, complete with baby eaglet. Be forewarned: this one can be habit forming! (can you believe the beak on that baby! ouch!)

It’s the final seven days of the Fantasy Scroll Magazine Kickstarter, and the goal is within reach! Check out the Kickstarter and the rewards here. Also, a teaser Issue 0 with 2 stories is up on the website. Good reading!

Writing advice on the internet is everywhere, but good advice–especially written in an engaging fashion–may be more hard to come by. These posts by Charlie Jane Anders on iO9 are fun, engaging, and might just improve your writing game.

Are you looking for ways to connect with people with your writing? Are you wondering why it matters if your characters are all male, or all European, or all-whatever? Just want to learn more what it feels like to be excluded, or to suddenly find a sense of belonging in the media? Then head over to the Jim C. Hines-edited collection of essays, titled “Invisible,” for a look inside the lives of folks of many stripes of exclusion, how their lives were impacted by that exclusion, and how you as a writer can make a difference.

goals, Uncategorized, Writing

A New Record (until rejection trounces me)!

I finally did it! I managed to get, and now to exceed(!!!), my long-held super-secret goal of having a dozen stories out on submission. With today’s submission, I currently have 13 stories out. Weeeee! Lucky thirteen.

Rejection, come and get me! I know you want to. I know you will. Mwahahaha–with so many stories out, one puny little rejection can’t hurt me at all. Can it?? Really, it can’t, right? It can? Uh-oh, how do I delete this post…

Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Workshops

Short Story Intensive Class: A Review

As I mentioned in a previous post, I took an online intensive class with Mary Robinette Kowal over the weekend. It was conducted on Google+, using the Hangout function for lectures/questions/crits, and Google Drive for sharing of homework files.

So, how was it? It was awesome!

There were 8 of us in the class, scattered over the US. One person had been in the Writing Excuses Retreat, for the rest of us, it was our first class with MRK. All of us came away very happy we’d taken the class, aware that we’d learned new things, that we’d progressed as writers.

The class, billed as “an intensive,” was intense. But the fast turnaround time on the homework assignments made us work fast, and helped shut down (for me, at least) that darned inner editor/critic, who makes you want to linger, to fuss and fidget. In this way, the final exercise of “write your story in 90 minutes” (and then post it for critique) was easier to do, since we’d all been pushing hard all weekend long. Yes, we were tired. No, none of us had slept too well the previous night, but the words flowed. 4 of us finished those stories, in first-draft form. The other four have great starts.

I don’t mean to say we didn’t have time to pee, or to breathe. We had mini-breaks, meal breaks, etc. But we were quick about them, and went back to our chairs again for more exercises, more writing, more learning.

The exercises eased us in to writing, and  grew more complex as the class progressed. Because they were challenging, it was fun to see what my classmates came up with. During the crit times, I think most of us perused not just the stories we were assigned to crit, but all we could read of our classmates’ work. Yes, we were tired, but this was fun and invigorating! (One session, our class seemed preoccupied with vomit, of all things!)

The final bit of the class was motivational stuff to help us view the process of writing as that… an ongoing process. She reminded us that setbacks happen, that blocks sometimes mean a breakthrough is nigh, and to just keep writing through all that. An open Q & A finished up the sessions, and that was (sniff, sniff) the end.

My computer had “technical difficulties” maintaining the multiple Google+ windows (it’s a 5-year old dinosaur), and kept falling out of the Hangout, so let me warn you to make sure your computer is up to snuff before trying this. However, if you can manage that bit, take the class. I know it’s going to help me “level up” in my writing.

Hard numbers on what I got from the class:

  • new ways to evaluate my stories, both before I write them (to make sure they’ll work), and also after (to see why they’re NOT working)
  • new tools for writing POV, plot, and voice, etc
  • one finished first draft story
  • four other solid story ideas
  • seven new writing acquaintances
  • confirmation (again) that I’m not totally insane for wanting to do this “writing thing”
Quote of the Week, Uncategorized

Quote of the Week

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. –Gustave Flaubert

I don’t know about you, but for me, I often don’t discover what I’m really writing about in a short story until halfway through the initial draft. Oh, I might have some notion that the main character is So-and-So, and that there are time-traveling guinea pigs involved, and maybe a robot, too. But until I get into the meat of the story and wrestled with it a bit, I don’t know what emotional response I’m looking for. Is this a funny robot, and the story is a sideways look at tech gone awry? Or will the guinea pigs eat one another, so I want the reader to come away with a revulsion for the intricacies of “over-civilization” and such? Am I looking to make you, the reader, long for something unattainable, cross and re-cross your legs in discomfort as you recognize something in your world that is less than pretty, or do I hope you’ll get misty-eyed at the thought of a reconciliation?

Longing, discomfort, hope — these are just some of the emotional responses a reader might have to the overall story. Sure, you might still laugh at a funny robot joke in there, but if the end result is one of longing, I’ll go back and temper some of those jokes in later drafts (or start writing that way mid-draft, once I “get” my own story). See what I mean?

A few stories I’ll know the strings to pull right from the beginning. Those are, in some ways, easier to write. And in other ways, they’re harder. When I don’t know the emotional heart of the story, I can’t overdo it. When I do know it, it’s far too easy for me to go overboard. Then I’ll have to go back and cut, cut, cut. It’s a toss-up, I guess in that regard.

But those I know beforehand generally stick in my brain longer, forcing me to write them. The others will fade away if I ignore them too long, and their emotions will sweep away like the tide, only to reappear in some other story further down the beach. Unlike in life, nothing in writing is really lost.

So, this is part of my process. What’s yours?