April 20th

Of Apiaries and Shimmery things

It’s been quietly mental the last week or so. A post or two back I mentioned my unsuccessful attempts in regards to the flash fiction blog competitions I enter. Well, I’ve now won one of them twice. Which is pretty awesome. The corollary of winning is that the following week I set the prompt, and judge the entries. This was an interesting experience.

Since I stepped down as a Senior First Reader with Spark: A Creative Anthology I have done only a handful of first reads for the magazine. It was just too difficult. Mentally I struggled to be in a place where I could be objective about the piece in front of me, and at the same time disassociate my own writing from the judging process. In the first week that I judged Finish That Thought there were eight entries. It almost caused a meltdown. Thankfully the stories were good and carried me through, but I had to let Brian know I wouldn’t be doing much reading right now. I hope to get back to it soon. In the mean-time if anyone fancies spending an hour or two a week reading submissions to a great magazine, go here.

I intend to do a post tomorrow, or by the weekend, about a couple of great classes with Cat Rambo because the rest of the post is going to be about my current WIP, and the magazine I’ll send it to first.

I’m writing a story about a world with cat-sized bees, an unusual queen bee, and someone who requires apatoxin (found in bee venom). I intend to submit this story to Shimmer. Shimmer is one of my ‘hit-list’ markets. Any time I have a story idea, it gets run against the hit list, and that may or may not determine how the story develops. This one felt like a shimmer sub from the start. But it scares me. I don’t have a pro pub yet, and Shimmer is a pretty exclusive club. So apart from a story idea, and stalking the editors on twitter, what process is there to go through?

Well, some time ago those editors did a twitter chat and gave some insights into hot buttons. I kept the chat and here it is:

Tobler: Birds, angels, pyramids, awesome women, abandoned places, cities in clouds, drag queens, confidence, demons, weird, buttons

Tobler: Ice cream, possibility, skilled hands, food magic, small cities, sprawling cities, maps in the stars, maps in the waters

Tobler: Dichotomies, imbalances, circles, monkeys, jungles, temples, moons, daughters, journeys, goodbyes, pleasures in the weird.

Tobler: Unusual hobbies, book magic, creativity, pears, bears, lairs, love that cannot be but still is, compasses, lockets, rockets.

Tobler: Islands, mountains, bridges, rivers, Mars, Pluto, Africa, Peru, Antarctica, China, Greece, New Zealand, fields of clover.

Tobler: Stories that are wholly confident in their direction, no matter how strange.

Wodzinski: layers and nuance and shades of gray.

Tobler: Yes. Nothing is only one layer–the best cakes have several and each changes the meaning of what came before. Mmm, cake.

Tobler: Diversity, experimentation, fun, bent, weird, twisted, beauty in unexpected places, honesty in ugly places, ghosts, air, sky.

Now, I haven’t tried to be a hot button whore and hit everyone, but I have tried to salt one or two of them through the story. A notable absence will be badgers. I hope that will not be a fateful blow. I believe Simmer likes the badgers, or uses them as staff, something like that.

Anyway, back to the story. It was stalled. I had the beginning and middle & very end. But there was a chunk missing, and it refused to come together. Then I read a tweet saying that Shimmer needed some stories which didn’t end in death, gloom, and destruction. Well dang, that’s my palette, my œuvré. It was also the nudge I needed to unblock the story. The ending has gone all warm and fuzzy, in a really bizarre way.

It may yet lack shimmer, but it’s given me a story. Now, all I need to do is sim sub it and at least one Shimmer editor (this one) will welcome me like a god. 😀

April 15th


I’m writing a chunk of flash and that’s okay, but nothing much else. There is stuff I could (should) brag about, but I’m not going to yet.

There are people I should name drop, hit up and give some glory. Later folks, later.

This week I finally got a new printer. It’s set up. Next stop is printing stuff out, and starting to red pen the life out of it. I want to have the first volume of my US American stories out this autumn. There are already a few volunteers who have generously volunteered to help with this. But I’m always happy to take on board more.

I’m trying to force myself back into a groove over the next few weeks.

April 1st

I have only one writing project on the go. There are several in back burners, but only one in production as it were. It’s a story of a woman who will do what she needs to do to protect her family. With that as a strap-line I’m almost falling asleep, and I’m the one writing it. I hope the finished product, with it’s evocative location, cat-sized bees, and hopefully disturbing twist towards the end will help secure it a place in it’s intended home. We’ll see. It may just not shimmer enough.

I do have a story recently (just before midnight yesterday) completed. This is a flash piece of about 1200 words, and came about when Frances tweeted about Smells in the Snow. It sounded to good a prompt to miss. Frances has also completed a story and Mark was also joining in – though he has been crazy busy whipping into shape a submission to the Crossed Genres Novelette call.

As ever my writing week has been filled with flash prompts. A couple of entries have garnered nice comments and special mentions, but a win remains elusive. But then, I am going up against some phenomenally talented writers. A by product of the flash entries was joining in #PoemCrawl on 28th March. What a great time. A new prompt every fifteen minutes or so, then the twitterverse, at least the portion using #PoemCrawl, lit up.

I’m unsure what April will bring. Apart from a meet up with my own personal writing guru, who happens to be in Edinburgh for a while. And my prose poem The Maker being the first story by E&GJ‘s new imprint Zetetic.