25th May

Last time I wrote was over a month ago. Pretty shocking, especially as I anticipated another post a few days hence. Instead we ended up in Cornwall for two weeks. Since we got back it’s just been hectic. So let’s try a small recap.

At my last post I mentioned doing a few classes with Cat Rambo. They were great, helpful, and interesting. I’ve done a few with her, and should her schedule allow (Congrats on SFWA presidency!) for classes that coincide with not the middle of the night for me, I hope to do another one.

With respect to my story about bees, that I intended to sub to Shimmer – it’s with them now. I am in trepidatious anticipation of a response. Whatever the status of that it is a story I am immensely proud of and I need to say a big thanks to Mark & Gio for help in polishing the story.

Why am I suddenly writing a post today though? And why the hiatus?

Well, the trip to Cornwall turned into a scouting trip. We are looking to move down there. The climate is just that little bit better, and it helps my wife’s (and my) health. We know the area we want to go to, and we already have some friends in the area (some of them new). This means that the past couple of weeks have been a flurry of examining costs and ensuring that what we want to do is both practical and affordable. On top of that, I’ve still been writing and editing and so the blog slid by unnoticed.

So what prompted today? Mary & Patti from Nebraska. I’m sat in my local coffee shop doing a little light editing when they sit down at the adjacent table. As I’ll literally do anything to avoid editing I engaged them in conversation and they were kind of amazed that someone in rural Scotland had any idea where Nebraska was, never mind that the big college football team is called the Cornhuskers. They asked if I had any details, and there was only my blog. which I suddenly realized had been neglected.

So thank you Mary & Patti. I hope your trip is fun, enlightening, educational, and productive.

I also have some publication news.

My story Shell County Vodou is part of the Slave State anthology put together by Chris Kelso. It’s available on Amazon NOW (i.e. – spring a few bucks and read not only me, but a whole bunch of wonderful writers).

I’ve also had acceptances for a short story and a couple of poems, though details will follow later.

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. 😀