“Cease Fire!” Reminiscing about Marine boot camp…

MarineJust read through my first draft of my 12,000-word novelette, “Cease Fire!” I think it turned out good. As a story, it’s what scifi author Orson Scott Card would call a “milieu” story–it’s appeal, if it has any, will be the world of Marine Corps boot camp: the sights, sounds, and culture of 50 recruits in a training platoon; the drama that can occur, outside and inside boot camp. There is character development, sure, but in this type of story it will be secondary. Readers who enjoy “Cease Fire!” will do so because they’re intrigued by the world of boot camp. For those who have been to the boot camp of any military service, I like to think it will be a fond reminiscence. For those who haven’t been, it will be an interesting look inside, seen by a character to whom many readers can relate. For those who see boot camp in their future, it will be an honest preview, and a reminder that things will be similar, but your story will be different. “Cease Fire!” is, after all, based on true experiences of my own…

I hope to share this story with a select few of you soon, to get feedback. Interested in being a reader for “Cease Fire!”? Please let me know! Thanks.

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Accepted!

success-kidJust a few days ago, I blogged about my first rejection from a literary magazine and how I still remained optimistic. Well, it’s paid off! I received my first acceptance just yesterday, for the very story that was so recently rejected, “Coffee in the Afternoon”!

Not gonna lie. I did a little a happy dance when I read the acceptance email. The editor had some wonderfully nice comments about the piece and I’m looking forward to seeing it in this particular magazine! (I’ll announce the magazine and release date in the coming months. As of now, my story is slated for the October issue.)

What was interesting about this whole thing, though, was earlier that same day (yesterday) I was driving home and thinking, “Maybe I should rework that story. Maybe the antagonist wasn’t right.” In other words, I began doubting myself. It was healthy doubt, I suppose…I mean, I still thought the story was good, but that maybe I should try a different approach to it. I went home and talked about it with my mom, who is staying with my fiancee and me for a little while. It was just a chat, and when it ended I was perusing my email and…there it was! The acceptance that said, “We love your story.”

Acceptance is a great feeling and I know I’m fortunate to feel it this early in my writing career. It’s all-around great. I have no ill feelings for the magazine which rejected it–it’s still a good story, but perhaps it didn’t fit with what they were looking for. That’s okay. It fit somewhere else, it’s found its first home. And while I basked in the glow of “acceptance” last evening, enjoying dinner and my dogs and my fiancee even more than usual, I started thinking that I need to get a move-on to the next project. I still have two stories to edit, two stories to finish, a new story to write, and a novella to complete. A writer’s life is not static. It’s not one story, one book. It’s hundreds of stories, dozens of books.

Rejections: 1. Acceptances: 1.

Time to get back to work. =)

“Killing off Characters and Magical Revivals” by RR

DumbledoreSometimes writers whine about “I just don’t want to kill off my characters! I love them so much!” First, that type of whining about a character annoys me. Characters are tools at the service of the writer. But instead, some writers pathetically create their characters as means of having someone to fall in love with in their own heads. It’s a lack of self-esteem, that’s my honest opinion. Characters are the tools of a writer; they are not meant to satisfy your need for the love you haven’t earned in reality. Stop falling in love with your characters, and please, stop bringing them back in magical ways for no good reason… The blog I’ve re-posted below, written by Rachel Raine, is good advice when it comes to killing off characters and then magically reviving them. (Thanks for indulging my rant.)

 

Killing off Characters and Magical Revivals.

 

***SPOILER ALERT*** for Harry Potter and Star Trek Into Darkness

J.K. Rowling handled this well when she killed off Dumbledore. At first when I read it, it was unbelievable to me and I was certain she’d bring him back in the final book. But then again, she’d killed Sirius just before that, and Harry’s parents long before that. And she had established since the first book that magic can’t bring people back to life. She held true to that promise. Although I was totally bummed at all of it, I respected Rowling for sticking to the rules she had established, instead of arbitrarily creating false happy endings. As she reminded us once (paraphrased), “I never said these were children’s books.”

Kirk came back to life in Star Trek Into Darkness in a rather silly way. A tribble? Really? Khan’s blood? Really? I get the irony of it, but it was too coincidental. And they were playing off the trick from The Wrath of Khan. In that movie, when it was Spock who died, a whole other movie was made to bring Spock back. To make the resurrection matter and show the change it brought to all of the characters, including Spock. Into Darkness’ use of the “magical revival” was flimsy; Search for Spock‘s use, however, got it right.

Writers, I know you want your happy ending, but be ready to keep someone dead if you’re going to kill them. Or, if you’re going to bring them back, you’d better have a damn good reason with damn good results.

Rejected!

In any book on writing you pick up, you’re likely to find a passage where the author says something like, “You’re going to receive a ton of rejections in your career, especially at first. Don’t worry. Keep writing.” I’m glad I’ve read the dozens of passages like this so that I could be ready for this first (inevitable) rejection.

It was a form rejection email from Slice Literary MagazineAccording to Duotrope.com, Slice has a 1.9% acceptance rate. So for every 100 manuscripts submitted, about 2 are accepted, and it appears that there are many submissions. Slice rejected my short story, “Coffee in the Afternoon.” Of course, I felt a pang of “aw shucks” when I saw it, but I was by no means crushed or downhearted. Hell, I expected it! It was a shot at the moon and I don’t regret it. “Coffee in the Afternoon,” by the way, is still under consideration at 4 other magazines, and is only one of three stories I’ve submitted to nearly 10 magazines. So, all in all, I’m happy with this first rejection: it means I’ve finally got on the road with my writing career.

I’ll submit another story to Slice in the future. They look like an excellent magazine and I’d be proud to see a story of mine among their pages. In the meantime, I have two first drafts–“Earth House” and “Cease Fire!”–to edit. I also have solid ideas for two new short stories, “Magic Words” and “The Green F-250.” Additionally, I also have two solid novella ideas, one of which is half-finished (Clay Man). That’s not mentioning the novella I’ve already completed, The Woman Alone, which is available electronically and in print. What’s the lesson here? Writers don’t sulk over rejection slips. Writers keep writing, keep submitting. My favorite novel, The Fountainhead, was rejected by 11 major publishers. It’s now one of America’s greatest novels.

Mine’s next. 😉

Fellow writers, keep writing!

My New Novella

A plague is sweeping the Kenyan savannahs—a plague that affects only the mighty giraffes. Across the plains, they are simply lying down to sleep…and never waking up. Kenya’s president has called in Susan, the world’s premiere exotic veterinarian, to investigate the plague’s origin and save the giraffes. What Susan discovers is more shocking than she could have imagined. A “dark man” has also arrived in the savannahs; where he goes, giraffes lie dying or dead. And he wants Susan to come after him. In a race against time, and with two mysterious allies at her side, Susan seeks out this “dark man,” hoping to uncover his plot and prevent the extinction of the giraffe. But saving the majestic creatures may require more than she can possibly give… 

  • Beautiful cover design!
  • Functional interior formatting for eBook, including hyperlinks to chapters!
  • On sale! Usually $2.99, now just $0.99! (Limited time!)
  • Click here to preview the eBook!

This self-published labor of love has been in the works for several months now. I think the final product will please and surprise you. You can download it now to your Kindle, smartphone, or computer (using the free Kindle app) in under a minute! Thanks and enjoy!

(Want a PRINT edition? Click here!)

First Draft Revelations

Just read the openings to two stories whose first drafts I recently finished. The first didn’t excite me very much; the second had my blood pumping! Writing is certainly an interesting thing to do; when you reread your own fiction, you learn things about yourself you’d never have known otherwise… Hmm. Well, I’m finished for the night. Time for an episode of House M.D.! Goodnight, friends! 

A True Work of Fiction…

I came upon this amazing dissection of “a true work of fiction” some time last year, 2013, and used this picture as a background for it. The quote struck me as true immediately and I always keep it in the back of my mind–or sometimes in the front of my mind–while working (i.e., writing). To me its message is simple: don’t paralyze yourself into NOT writing by thinking you have to break all the rules to be “original.” The techniques may not be new, the idea may not be “original” as such, but this much is true: YOU are new to this world and YOU are an original. Any idea automatically becomes “new” when you explain it through your own eyes. Trust your eyes and write what they see. Do that by learning the timeless techniques of writing and apply them to your idea. Don’t go breaking the rules just for the sake of breaking the rules. The techniques are timeless for a reason: they work–they communicate to readers of all times and ages. It’s not easy and like any skill, it will require mastery, but the principle itself is simple, and beauty is simplicity. =) That’s what this quote says to me. Here it is. This is “a true work of fiction”…

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