Backlog

Backlog

Do you have more stories than you know what to do with? So do I. There are ones I wrote for a particular publication or theme and never got them submitted. When writing a story for a specific contest or publication, I don’t always finish the piece before submissions close. While I wish everything I’d written I had been able to submit, there is still a plus to having a large collection of unpublished stories.

Last year I partook in a challenge for Havok editors (it was also open to the public but I mostly knew other editors who were participating) to write a story for each genre per theme (60 stories total). Being a writer and the themes being so fun with Havok, we still wanted to write stories for the themes. I took a little easier approach and just did one story within one of the genres per theme (grand total would be 12 stories). We called it the Gauntlet. Now, a couple of these stories were published but being an editor with the publisher limited how many of them could be sent in for consideration. That left a lot of stories written with no home. But that’s okay because it creates something that can be important for a writer: backlog. 

Having a backlog as a writer might not seem good but let me explain why this can benefit a writer, especially with short stories or pieces that could be sent to an anthology or magazine. Now, instead of always having to find a new idea, I have a finished or partially finished story written and ready to be sent when a new opportunity comes up. And new opportunities do come up.

Example. I’m recently was working on a story I originally wrote as a poem, then adapted into a short story (can’t remember why I chose to do this), and polished it to submit for consideration to an anthology. The due date isn’t until April but because it was already several drafts in, I could focus on polishing it up and sent it in a week or two ago. That moves a lot fast than when you have to come up with a story, write it, edit it, then send it in. Sometimes the biggest thing is to tweak the story to fit the requirements of the new publication you’re submitting too.

You may be wondering how this works if a story is written according to a particular theme. Honestly, it still works. What I’ve found when writing is even though a story is written to a theme doesn’t mean it won’t work for something else. One idea can work for several themes. More than once while editing for Havok, I’ll be editing or writing a story towards one theme and can see how it would also work for another theme. Sometimes the story would just need to be tweaked or emphasized here instead of there to fit a different theme.

If you have a story that was written but didn’t get a chance to be submitted to the planned publisher or was rejected, hold on to it. Work on it. Tweak it. A new opportunity will come up. And, when it does, you’ll have a story in your back pocket to polish and send. And still have time for cookies.

2020 Blog Project

Hello readers. So sorry for the lack of posting in December and most of January. The holidays took a lot of time away and then it just continued to slid by. I had wanted to talk about last year’s writing and reading habits (if you would still be interested in a post like that, drop a comment below) and then, with the new year, talk about plans for this year. Well, this post will talk about a big project I plan for this year (something I wanted to announce last month but, as stated, holidays).

With the start of this month, I will be releasing a novel in twelve parts (chapters) on this blog, from January to December. I’ve heard of others doing this before but was inspired to add an additional challenge from a writing challenge I did last year.

For about a year and a half now, I’ve been volunteering with Havok Publishing, first as an editor and now with the marketing department. Because so many who volunteer are also writers, we set up a writing challenge for those in house to try and write a story for each theme in each genre (I took a smaller challenge in only writing one story per theme in a one of Havok’s genres which would make it twelve stories in total.) I was two stories short of accomplishing it but it was fun. A story or two into the challenge, I started thinking how fun it would be to write a story where each story would flow into the next to make a cohesive whole. So, I decided I would do that this year with Havok’s 2020 themes. That is how this new blog story is going to work.

So, before much more, lets take a look at some of the guidelines:

  1. Each part will corispond with Havok’s monthly theme in the order that they appear (Part 1 with have a Dynamic Due, Part 2 will be Answering a call, etc).
  2. Because the story will be one whole story and will have to build a little more than a flash fiction piece, each section can be 2,000 words long.

Next, what are Havok’s themes this year?

  • January – Dynamic Duo
  • February – Answering the Call
  • March – Strange New Worlds
  • April – End of the World as We Know It
  • May – Super Duper
  • June – The One Thing

Each part of the story will emphasis these themes will also creating a whole and complete story. Now, you might be asking, “That’s only six themes. This is supposed to go the whole year. Where are the last six?”

Great question. And the answer is Havok hasn’t released the next six months of themes so I don’t know. Really, I don’t know completely know where the second half of the story is going to go (part of the challenge) but I have some ideas so getting those to work will be fun. The first half of this blog story is already written (NaNoWriMo 2019) and just need some editing which will be done as they are released.

Part of the prep work for this story, I also read How to Blog A Book by Nina Amir. While the book focused more on blogging a non-fiction book, there were some take aways that I’ll be using for this story. One of which is exclusive content. I hope to compile and self-publish this story when it is finished. So, while the main story will be on the blog, there will be additional content for the finished, published book that will expound upon and broaden the story and world.

I hope you come along on this journey with me this year and enjoy the story. Now, to tell you all what this story is about!

Woven Fate 1

A prophecy foretold a man with two colored eyes would destroy the kingdom. Tovi is the only one with different colored eyes which has caused him to run since he was ten. Hiding among a traveling troupe of performers, he performs archery tricks on his horse, trying to live a normal life. But prophesy is always looming and when it causes him to run again, he set out on a quest to see if he can re-stitch his fate and out run those who hunt him for the person he may become. But can change the future or is he destined to become the man who doesn’t want to be?

I’m really excited for this story and I plan on publishing a prologue tomorrow to set the story and then Part 1 on Sunday the 26th. Stay tuned here and on Facebook to here about progress and new parts as they release!

Questions? Thoughts? Drop a comment and let me know what you think of the upcoming blog story, Woven Fate!

Completing NaNoWriMo

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Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month). If you don’t know what that is, it is where writers get together to accomplish the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month (usually November). NaNoWriMo has expanded through the years to include April and July with Camp NaNoWriMo where you get to set your own word count goals during that month (I particularly like this). The point of the challenge is to write and accomplish a first draft (not a final draft. Editing must still be done). I participated this year wanting to get a bulk of writing done for a project for next year (more on this project later). But I had some unique goals because it wasn’t 50,000 words long. So my goals:

  • 24,000 words
  • A first draft
  • Open to working on other, smaller projects if the main project got done early.

So in the end:

  • 21,744 words
  • All but 657 words are for a different project but not everything I’ve written will be in the final draft.
  • A first draft is complete

Even though I didn’t get as many words as I wanted and I didn’t hit the 50,000 like I secretly kind of hoped I still might do, I feel accomplished. The main point of doing this was to complete the first draft which is what I did this afternoon. I now have something to work with and a huge chunk done for later. So I hit my goal in a way.  The first draft of the first half of the story is written. The next half of this story will be written during the next NaNo which would be April.

Yet, part of me is still sad I didn’t hit the 50,000 mark. Not making the daily goals the site projects was actually a big contention for myself for about the first half of the month. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to hit 50,000, my story was just not that long. But not hitting the daily goals frustrated me, stressed me out, and I was putting words on paper without feeling anything and were coming out pretty bad which added another lay of frustration. It was more going through the motions to satisfy and see the graph grow than anything else. Strangely enough, a glitch that I caused on my NaNo page ended being a big help in overcoming this. I tried to see if I could change the word count and ended up changing what NaNo event this was for. Suddenly, the site was saying the project was for an old event and wouldn’t let me update my word count. I had a melt down because I couldn’t put it back to the current event and I couldn’t update which meant I couldn’t see the progress on the chart and I wasn’t sure if it could be fixed (I know, very superficial and a bit over the top). But, over the course of trying to get this fix, I learned to let it go. I was there to write the first draft and if I did that than I accomplished NaNo, whether I was able to continue updating through the site or not. The problem eventually got fixed (see, no reason to melt down, right?) but I was in a better frame of mind. I focused on writing the characters’ story and focused on the story, not the word count to update (but I still love updating and seeing how far I got). It allowed me to connect to the characters better. I think the story started getting better because of that.

Granted, I still had to write. I made myself write every day over the last two weeks (except yesterday because I was way overtired) even if it was just a little bit. I was stuck again in the story so I only had to write a few hundred words. I was reading How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell at the time and he talked about writing 500 words in the morning and 200 at night, no matter what. So, even though I was stuck and it was late and I didn’t want to do it, I would write a little bit. That get me to find where I was going in the story for that stuck section and I wrote 300-700 each day during that two week period. I was productive even through an unknown section and it didn’t turn out bad.

Another thing I gained from this experience is how much I wrote. I wrote of 21,000 words in a single month. All year I’ve been trying to finish a novella to self-publish. I finished the first draft and am in the middle of a second but it has been going slow because of interruptions and me not working on it when I have the time. It is currently sitting over 18,000 words and I wrote most of those this year too. But it took me a couple of months. So I couldn’t believe that I wrote more than that in a single month. It just goes to show how much you can get done if you set down to it daily, even if it is just a little bit because that is all you can manage that day. You will still be making progress. If the story is going smoothly, I can write a lot more than a little bit at once.

During all this, I even brained stormed when I got stuck and wrote a several side stories that relate to my main story to discover some background information. I also wrote a story for Havok which I sent in for consideration for January. It encourages me to get back to work writing and getting those words on paper.

So, I got a lot out of NaNo this year. Didn’t accomplish the set goal but I got my goal done and even came out with a new perspective and encouragement as I move on with my novella and my NaNo project which does need editing (especially in big spots) but that I have a lot of hope and excitement for.

Keep an eye on this blog next month to learn more about the NaNo project and what I’m doing with it next year.

Keep writing!

The Story of a Flag

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Graphic from History Daily, https://historydaily.org/us-flags

I read a novelization of Betsy Ross when I was a kid. It was biographical but read like a novel with dialogue and events happening as if you were living her life with her. You might be asking, “Who is Betsy Ross?” Betsy Ross is attributed as the designer of the American Flag.

At the time she designed her flag, America did not have fifty states hence why the flag has gone through several different designs. But the main thought and idea of it is still there. It might have been simplified for kids, but there was something in there that stayed with me. In that novelization, she said something that I still remember after all these years. I’ll have to paraphrase, but she said that a flag is the page of a history book.

Each flag tells a story of the country it represents. This has always made me wonder about the stories behind other flags. Why the straight, solid colors of Russia’s or France’s flags? Why all white with a big, red circle for Japan? Britain’s? I kind of have an idea for Mexico. And don’t get me started on the flags for each state (at least I know a little of the story for Minnesota’s). Maybe that is my writer’s side. Wanting to know the story.

This 4th of July, it makes me wonder, do you know the reasoning and the story our flag tells? While I won’t be able to tell it as well as others could, I can clue you in on some of the facts. The 13 red and white stripes represent the 13 colonies that first came to America. The white stars represent the current number of states (hence the change of this area through history). Today, there are fifty stars. I’ll let you investigate the color meaning. And while you’re at it, why not learn a little bit about Betsy Ross. If I remember correctly, she was interesting.

Welcome…

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Welcome! Hope you enjoy browsing around the site. Here you’ll find what I’m currently working on, posts on writing and other topics, and, I’m hoping, some original short stories. Also, here about other authors and some book reviews. Feel free to also follow me on Facebook. I hope to share more about my writing and what I’m doing know in a future post so keep checking back.