Writing Life Updates: June 2022

Life update: Oh, my journey with sourdough. I knew before beginning that I would love the process, but damn did my failures knock me on my ass. Though I’m still learning how to shape and influence the flavor of sourdough more, I’m getting the hang of making some tasty bread all out of water, flour, salt, and air. It’s like magic.

Author Life News

I feel like I’ve been heavy in this cavern of learning and consuming over the past month. I don’t think I’ve made any big sales, though I did hear back about a story being held for further review. Bittersweet news. I hope the story gets accepted, but if it doesn’t, it getting held means the story is doing something right. I sent some other short stories out and heard back (rejections) about others.

My rejections are at least all encouraging at this point. But I’m also not sending out as much fiction as I used to. I like my slow pace and am considering slowing it down more to focus on specific magazines or publications and targeting them with certain stories. There’s an open call for a Black Mirror-espue anthology, Monstrous Futures, featuring dark or horror science fiction stories. I have one already written that’s been on my mind that would fit the anthology well and the editors have previously rejected me encouragingly. So I’m spending June working on sharpening it up for the call and sending it out.

If you haven’t read my science fiction story ‘It Came Gently’ in May’s Lightspeed Magazine, please do give it a read and share if you like it!

My science fiction literary thriller novel is still out on query for one more month, and so far, I’ve gotten a couple of partial requests in the past month, but no takers. Since my plan is to stop querying and submitting the novel in July, this month I’ll be sending the story out to publishers that accept unagented submissions. Then I’ll put it to the side until next year when I’ll revisit the novel and make any edits my new earned skills deem fit. I have about 20 or so agents reserved for that round of querying if I don’t have representation by that point.

After receiving all my alpha reader comments back on my horror novella, I feel even more confident in my story and book. I have a lot of work to do, but I still plan on finishing up my final edits by the end of July or August. The past couple of weeks have seen me elbow deep in scene outlining and spreadsheeting to see how the novel is moving with each scene. The comments and feedback my alpha readers gave me surprisingly aligned with a lot of the notes and fixes I left for myself along my draft and spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet is almost done, then I’ll move on to creating a scene card outline of the story to capture the rise and fall and tension that is held throughout the story. As I look at the scenes and move through my development and content edits, I’ll be looking for agents and publishers open to horror and dark fantasy novellas. I have at least one agent who has said they’d be interested in reading it and who already has noted my work and writing as strong. I have July carved out for my line and copy edits, which I’m excited about because I got a lot of feedback on the lines and voices being really sharp and catching.

I’m having a lot of fun studying voice the past few weeks. I’ve been reading Dialogue by Robert McKee, which is one of the best books on voice and dialogue, and it’s been teaching me some lessons I know and some ones I don’t. In May, I studied the voice of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. That involved doing some copy work and analyzing the prose for how it was conveying the main character’s voice.

In June, I’ll be studying the voice of Jacques Mesrine’s autobiography The Death Instinct. It’s got a strong and true voice you can only find in an autobiography. McKee’s book and several other resources on writing voice suggest treating your characters and the voice on the page like a real person to truly capture that distinct voice. Studying how Mesrine displays his inner world on the page is helping me see how to showcase my characters better through confident wording.

The book I’ll be learning from this month is going to be Lisa Zeidner’s Who Says?: Mastering Point of View. Some writers may be confused about what POV has to do with voice, but it’s a huge part of how we show voice on the page. I’ve never read Zeidner’s book and am excited to learn more about POV and how it influences the voice I use on the page for my characters.

Thanks for reading about my writing life and all the work I do to keep the lights on in my writing tower. Next week, I figure I’ll share my scene spreadsheet process as I continue figuring out what to share during that week. Any questions about my writing life are welcome—just drop a comment.

Stay up to date on where I’m publishing, what I’m working on, and more!

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