Author Topic: Circle of Writers Vague Conversation  (Read 53292 times)

GoodDamon

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Reply #25 on: February 04, 2007, 12:06:02 AM
Yeah, haut and I have both sent stuff there, I think (We're CW classmates). They do have a nice sub process. I mostly send them poetry -- got something in 3rd round there, atm.

A couple of our classmates have sold there recently. I'll buy the issues with their stories in 'em, and keep an eye out for your name. :)

I sincerely hope you enjoy it. It's one of my rare forays into contemporary fantasy, as I mostly write science fiction.

What, pray tell, is "CW" a reference to? I'm sure I'm missing the context somewhere.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #26 on: February 04, 2007, 12:37:12 AM



GoodDamon

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Reply #27 on: February 04, 2007, 12:49:14 AM
Clarion West - http://www.clarionwest.org/

Ah. I should have gotten that. My writing group uses CW as shorthand for Clarion West all the time. I haven't had the privilege to get into a pro workshop yet. What did you think of it?

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #28 on: February 04, 2007, 01:09:13 AM
Completely amazing. Haut can give you her own impressions, but for me it was the moment that changed my attitude from 'hobbyist' to 'pursuing professionality.' It's an intense experience, but it's a chance to be in a place where writing is air and water for six weeks. You get to meet some of your idols and you form a lot of lasting writing bonds.

This year's class gets Nancy Kress & Samuel Delany, too. I'm jealous. ;)



hautdesert

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Reply #29 on: February 04, 2007, 01:16:02 AM
It was fantastic.  If you can, go.

If nothing else, it's worth the six weeks of writing and talking writing and meeting people.  It was one of the few times in my life where I walked into a group and was instantly at home.

Also, the chance to even be in the same room with the instructors....

Attending one of the big workshops is not, of course, even remotely a requirement for being a good sf writer.  But it is definitely educational and a heck of a lot of fun.



floatingtide

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Reply #30 on: February 04, 2007, 01:49:22 AM
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Does it drive you crazy when someone doesn’t get what you’re saying and your itchy fingers want to type out a comment explaining what the reader is missing?
A little bit, but I've been working for years on letting go and letting readers interpret/misinterpret my stories however they want. It's out of an author's control, and no matter how clear and simple a story is someone wont get it. This is particularly true of spec-fic.

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How many of you out there who haven’t had any of their stories put up are screaming at the screen, waiting for them to pop up?
I'm lucky, I submitted one early and got one up right away.

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Do you think you put less effort into one or more of your stories because you knew you had three chances with this contest?
No, I don't think so. Every story I write absorbs me. It becomes the best and then the worst story ever written -- though those feelings sometimes lasts only a moment. Plus, I didn't know how many I'd manage to write. My fist might have been my only. 

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This is a dumb one cause I think we all feel the same.  If you could, would you take back your story and tweak it more?
On one level I always want to work more. I'm never done. But on another level I'm relieved and even elated when I mentally stamp something good enough and then abandon it in the wild.

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Have the comments really affected how you view your story?
Comments always do, but unless there's a reasonable consensus, I take everyone's take as unique. We have a word for stories that are understood almost universally: "Cliche."

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While writing your story, did you know you were putting information that could be confusing or unwelcome by the readers and smiled when people confirmed your thoughts?
Confusing, no. One goal is accessibility. (Another is subtlety and subtext, so my drives are sometimes at odds). I'm not sure what unwelcome information would be, unless you're talking about a political perspective. I find overtly political pieces both unsubtle and unaccessible (even when they mirror my own opinions) so I don't usually write like that.

In any case, when people find my work "unwelcome" in any way I am... disappointed. However, if I've had other, positive, responses. I try to learn from how felt about my story, but I rarely change the one they didn't like.

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Last for now, who is bringing what to the coming out party?
Not sure yet, but I have my poofy dress all picked out.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #31 on: February 06, 2007, 12:57:17 AM
"Does it drive you crazy when someone doesn’t get what you’re saying and your itchy fingers want to type out a comment explaining what the reader is missing?"

Yes.  Of course, as I understood the rules, we were allowed to comment on our own stories, so when I could think of something constructive to say in one of my threads, I did so.  (Even if it was just to make a bad joke.)

"How many of you out there who haven’t had any of their stories put up are screaming at the screen, waiting for them to pop up?"

Mine are all up, because in a rare burst of combined creativity and motivation, I wrote all four of my contestants (and chose which one to leave out) in a handful of nights.  I wish I could get that amped about writing cover letters...

"Do you think you put less effort into one or more of your stories because you knew you had three chances with this contest?"

Actually, I think I put "less effort" into the writing, and a lot more into the editing.  I've never had time to write, so when I get time (with no small humans running around demanding things) I write so furiously that I end up with loads and loads of half-finished stories that are wordy and pointless much like this sentence.  Having to cram a few into 300 words made me consider what needed to be said.

"This is a dumb one cause I think we all feel the same.  If you could, would you take back your story and tweak it more?"

I can always think of "tweaks" to make... better to get it to a submissible point, then set it free!

"Have the comments really affected how you view your story?"

A little bit; the first one (which has already been revealed) could probably stand some development into something more.  The one I decided not to submit feels right to me, but my wife didn't get it (just as well, because the theme was covered amply by several others - judge for yourself on my blog tonight, if you care to).

"While writing your story, did you know you were putting information that could be confusing or unwelcome by the readers and smiled when people confirmed your thoughts?"

Dude, the way MY mind works, that is just a background occupational hazard!  I mean, it's like when someone calls you at three a.m. and wakes you up, and they can TELL they woke you up, and you act like they didn't... and they're always like,  "Excuse me, did I assassinate your penguin?"  I hate that...

[And, no... I am not the author of "You Know What I Hate?"]

"Last for now, who is bringing what to the coming out party?"

A B-52's CD.

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hautdesert

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Reply #32 on: February 06, 2007, 05:04:49 AM
I wish I could get that amped about writing cover letters...

I have to admit that I have a template.  I just change the details--who it's going to, the list of credits if by some insane stroke of fate I've picked up a new one--and then print it out.  No muss, no fuss.

Now for novel subs that doesn't really work, because generally you need a synopsis (which will indeed drive me to tear out my hair) but for short stories?  It's the way to go, let me tell you.



GoodDamon

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Reply #33 on: February 06, 2007, 07:59:38 PM
I have to admit that I have a template.  I just change the details--who it's going to, the list of credits if by some insane stroke of fate I've picked up a new one--and then print it out.  No muss, no fuss.

I do that, too. Every once in a while, that causes me an embarrassing problem, though. If I'm not absolutely scrupulous when copy-editing the cover letter, I might accidentally send one that says something like: "...and I think this story would be appropriate for (magazine)..."

Oops.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


hautdesert

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Reply #34 on: February 06, 2007, 08:50:44 PM
LOL!

That's why my template is very bare.

"Dear <editor>,

Enclosed please find my X word story, "Story."  I have also enclosed a SASE for your reply.

My fiction has previously appeared in <wonderful magazine edited by tasteful and discerning editor> and <another such publication>.

Thank you for your time and attention,

Me.

The worst I can do is forget to change the title of the story, or the wordcount.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #35 on: February 06, 2007, 08:57:50 PM
I do the same, except for the credits para:

I am a <student/graduate of respected writing program(s)>. My short fiction has appeared in markets including <market A>, <market B>, and <market C> <(forthcoming) if appropriate>.

I retype mine each time on the formula, because I often want to vary whether I claim to be MFA educated or not (the editor of IGMS was quoted as saying, paraphrased, he'd never met a writer who wasn't ruined by an MFA, so I wouldn't own up), whether I mention Clarion West (twould only make most literary editors stare in baleful confusion), and which markets I list as credits, with hope I'll pick the ones that are most likely to appeal to the editor I'm sending to.

Then if I know the editor, about 50% of the time I add a friendly post script.

I may be anal.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #36 on: February 06, 2007, 08:59:38 PM
if I know the editor (or have corresponded with hir an ungodly amount.)



GoodDamon

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Reply #37 on: February 06, 2007, 09:05:25 PM
My form's pretty similar, but it's an easy mistake to make if you're tired and sending out six stories at once. I swear to God, I thought I'd proofed it, but when I got it back...

...eeeurgh...

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


SFEley

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Reply #38 on: February 07, 2007, 03:35:02 AM
My form's pretty similar, but it's an easy mistake to make if you're tired and sending out six stories at once. I swear to God, I thought I'd proofed it, but when I got it back...

For what it's worth, now that I've been on this side a while, I can promise you it really is true that editors barely look at cover letters.  That's not meant to offend -- it's just that the cover letter isn't remotely the interesting part.  (Or it shouldn't be.)  The story is.

I usually just sort of glance at the cover paragraphs before the story.  The whole thing has maybe three seconds to make an impression.  If there's a phrase in there that catches my attention, I'll focus in and pay attention, e.g.:

  • Hello, my name is David Brin.
  • You may remember me as the redhead in the short dress who drank Glenmorangie with you at Worldcon.
  • This story is absolutely true.  The voices from Neptune say you can have it for free, because this must be shared with the world, but you have to let me narrate it.  Or Morgan Freeman.  He's one of us too.

Short of something like that, I'm pretty much just looking to see if this story was published before, and by whom (not that it makes or breaks a buying decision, but it's nice to know), and then I want to get to the story.  If I like the story I'll take a closer look at the cover letter afterwards.  But by that point, a random typo or something isn't going to stop me from buying the story.

Does that help?

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


GoodDamon

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Reply #39 on: February 07, 2007, 06:29:36 AM
Does that help?

Immensely! I kicked myself for days after that mistake, figuring I'd get on some super secret editorial blacklist because of one silly faux pas.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #40 on: February 08, 2007, 04:19:36 AM

Well, thank you all for your insight; it seems I've been over-thinking the whole cover letter concept.  It would help if I had more of a resume to include (so far, my writing isn't "advertise-able"), but I've been stressed out about putting something of substance into it that should really be in the story.

Thanks, too, to Mr. Eley for suggesting something I wouldn't have thought to include in my cover letters:


  • Hello, my name is David Brin.

That's SURE to catch an eye or two, eh?   ;D

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


Heradel

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Reply #41 on: February 08, 2007, 04:47:18 AM
  • Hello, my name is David Brin.

Huzzah!  Thank you for saying that.

It also makes a stronger impression on the author.  Seriously.  Just one example: I got an e-mail two weeks ago from a Major Hard SF Author With a Four-Letter Last Name that began "Hi... fans have been telling me I should get in touch about podcasting some of my stories."

That's a great basis to start a conversation.  >8->

(And yes, that description was deliberately chosen to not give away the author.)

...?

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


SFEley

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Reply #42 on: February 08, 2007, 04:48:53 AM
Well, thank you all for your insight; it seems I've been over-thinking the whole cover letter concept.  It would help if I had more of a resume to include (so far, my writing isn't "advertise-able"), but I've been stressed out about putting something of substance into it that should really be in the story.

By the way, it really isn't a bad thing to omit the cover letter, if you can think of nothing important you need to say, and just launch straight into the story.  I've never minded that.


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  • Hello, my name is David Brin.

That's SURE to catch an eye or two, eh?   ;D

Sure.  Under the right circumstances, it might even be a good thing.  But I don't think you meet the key criterion.

(And no, don't tell me you're the redhead, either.  I know who she was.)

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SFEley

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Reply #43 on: February 08, 2007, 04:52:32 AM

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


Heradel

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Reply #44 on: February 08, 2007, 05:04:44 AM
Cool. Having a major SF author who has also done the podcast is a good thing to add to the dark-alley sales pitch.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Heradel

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Reply #45 on: February 08, 2007, 05:19:34 AM
Cool. Having a major SF author who has also done the podcast is a good thing to add to the dark-alley sales pitch.
In retrospect, I may be underselling it.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Laieanna

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Reply #46 on: February 08, 2007, 02:46:49 PM
Well, it’s only right that I answer my own questions and the others put up before I ask more.

“Does it drive you crazy when someone doesn’t get what you’re saying and your itchy fingers want to type out a comment explaining what the reader is missing?”

   Well, I know it drives me crazy when my hubby never gets my stories, but then he’s usually just half  paying attention.  It is a little gut wrenching when someone doesn’t understand something you think is completely clear.  So you sit before the screen, jabbing a finger on the words, and yell “It’s right there!!!!”

“How many of you out there who haven’t had any of their stories put up are screaming at the screen, waiting for them to pop up?”

   All of mine are up now, but it was almost painful waiting for them.  The words Escape Pod have been burned into my retina after all the times I came to this site.

“Do you think you put less effort into one or more of your stories because you knew you had three chances with this contest?”

   I originally asked this cause I thought maybe I had.  Now I don’t think I did, but I think I kept that idea in my head of “Eh, if this doesn’t fly, there’s two more coming.”

“This is a dumb one cause I think we all feel the same.  If you could, would you take back your story and tweak it more?”

   Oh god, I have a love hate relationship with my pieces.  One minute like it, next minute I hate it.  I believe I’d come back from the dead just to tweak a piece.  *giggle*  That sounded a little dirty. =)

“Have the comments really affected how you view your story?”

   I’m super sensitive…well, was more until I started shoving my crap out on the internet and the world hasn’t been as cruel as I expected.  The comments haven’t hurt me and have actually been pretty positive.  On two of the stories I wouldn’t change anything cause of what was said, but on the third I see what people are saying and agree with them.

“While writing your story, did you know you were putting information that could be confusing or unwelcome by the readers and smiled when people confirmed your thoughts?”

   I don’t think I was.  I’m a very simple person with a very simple style…not very flowery or complicated.  I’m the one more likely to get confused by other’s writing than to be confusing myself.

“Last for now, who is bringing what to the coming out party?”

   I can bring tissues for those who need to dot the tears of disappointment for not moving on.



Other’s questions


“What is your preferred story length?”

   Mine would definitely be short story.  I still don’t think I could write a novel.  I have made two attempts at a novel through Nano and Jano and failed miserably.  The idea of trying is still in my head, but my heart isn’t in it right now.

“Anyone here already published in other venues?”

   I’ve never been published beyond middle school collections where everyone gets published and then throwing myself up on Elfwood and now writing for my podcast.  I have no thoughts of being a great writer and don’t really believe I would ever get published.  I suppose it wouldn’t kill me to try though.  However, that’s a lot of effort for a lazy person.  I just want to sit and whine!  =)



Now I have more questions for you guys…if you’re still reading this long winded post.

Did any of your stories come from a longer version that was written out or at least thought out in your head?

How hard did you find it to limit yourself to 300 words?

Anyone been so hyped up to see their story on the forum that when it finally happened they feel empty now?

How much detail do you guys want from the authors when they are revealed?  Are you deeply curious how they came up with the story and what their intentions are?


Working on my comeback


GoodDamon

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Reply #47 on: February 08, 2007, 03:55:39 PM
Did any of your stories come from a longer version that was written out or at least thought out in your head?

Nope. One of them had to be trimmed after I finished it, but all three are brand-spankin'-new and came out at or near the right length.

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How hard did you find it to limit yourself to 300 words?

Easier than I thought it would be. I'm notorious at my writers workshop for 8000 word behemoths, so flash doesn't come naturally or easily to me. But challenges do come naturally and easily for me, and I think that aspect of this made up for my usual verbosity.

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Anyone been so hyped up to see their story on the forum that when it finally happened they feel empty now?

Nope. I love reading the comments. Even the comments on my first one, which didn't quite make the semifinals, were pretty positive. And I knew that was my weakest piece.

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How much detail do you guys want from the authors when they are revealed?  Are you deeply curious how they came up with the story and what their intentions are?

Well, I haven't done it yet, but I'm planning on infodumping on that for all three of my stories if none of them make the final cut. I would not be at all put out by others doing likewise.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


SFEley

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Reply #48 on: February 08, 2007, 04:32:17 PM
I’ve never been published beyond middle school collections where everyone gets published and then throwing myself up on Elfwood and now writing for my podcast.  I have no thoughts of being a great writer and don’t really believe I would ever get published.

There are self-fulfilling prophecies in the world.  This is one of them.

Authors who succeed have brains that weigh roughly the same as yours, with approximately the same number of cells and synapses.  Studies have shown that the impact of 'talent' on success is less than most people believe.  What leads to success -- in any field -- is working hard enough, practicing in the right way, and wanting it enough to convert desire into action.

I'm not trying to convince you that you should want something if you'd rather not, or work hard at things if they're not important to you.  Just saying that nothing is out of the question, unless you make it so.

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Laieanna

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Reply #49 on: February 08, 2007, 07:19:22 PM
I'm not trying to convince you that you should want something if you'd rather not, or work hard at things if they're not important to you.  Just saying that nothing is out of the question, unless you make it so.


I knew my self loathing was going to get me in trouble with someone.   ;D  Promise I wasn't fishing for pity.  I realize that the number one reason I'm not published is I'm not trying in the least bit.  I'm actually quite happy with where I stand right now.  Writing is a hobby for me and I'm a lazy lazy lazy person so my pace is a slow one.  Heck, part of why I started my own podcast was to motivate myself to write more.

As embarassing as this may seem, your podcast is that golden prize right now.  I love podcasting and pretty in to it and the idea of submitting to yours is exciting and terrifying.  Someone else mentioned how intimidating it can be.  You have such great stories from great authors that it can be scary.  I know the worst thing that can happen is you turn me down...no...wait...the worst would be to purchase it and the comments shoot me down!   :o   But I still have it in the back of my head to one day submit to you and/or Pseudopod...when I finally write something I think worthy.

Until then, I'll sneak into your contest and jab you from the side.  Yikes, I'm not making any sense! 

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