Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not dead, just...

Well... working, I guess. Yes, there's that new job--which I love--*love*--to bits (more on that below). But also the end of the Pure Slush 2014 Year In Stories project. I finally delivered my December story earlier this month--story which, by the way, was due at the end of May. Yep. Two months late. And I wasn't even the last writer to wrap up the cycle.

It's official: Matt Potter, Pure Slush editor, is a saint.

It was hard, wrapping up. I didn't expect it to be that hard. Saying goodbye to characters is always sad; "The End" is a production achievement, sure, but it's also The End--of a creativity moment, of a period of our lives, of our shared story with these characters.

Perhaps if I wrote happy--happier--endings I'd have more feel-good afterwards. From a creative production standpoint I'm pleased when I achieve the perfect ending for a story. In terms of craft it gives me a boost of satisfaction to wrap things up, to bring the story to its crescendo, to let the notes crash and bang and make their statement, and then fade.

But it's still an ending. The story ends. The characters I created are henceforth to go on with their lives without me--unless I've killed them, which I rarely do. Death is much too final.

(Do we begin to see the pattern of attachment issues here?)

In any case, the 2014 Year In Stories project is finished. Well, my part in it is. There are still three volumes to come out; October will probably be published any day now, and there's the looking forward to reading all the other 30 stories--the continuations, the other writers' crescendoes, the aftertaste I'll stay with at the end of these beautiful, heartwrenching stories.

And then there's work. I've published 10 articles so far in the Amigoe Express, and I have assignments to keep me busy for the next few weeks. As a writer of fiction--long, usually--I'm hardly efficient as a journalist; the sections of the paper I write for have a maximum word count of 650 (sometimes 500), and my first drafts usually exceed 2,000 words.

I don't need to pontificate on the amazing craft-honing skills this exercise is helping me develop.

As if that wasn't enough benefit, I also get to talk to people I never would've otherwise. The power of the press: I get to ask questions that I never would've dared to--and get answers. People open up, share their thoughts in informal ways that let me see more of them, their characters, their fears, their feelings of satisfaction and achievement. And that's fantastic fodder for the kind of fiction I write.

So it's a win-win. My new journalism job isn't stealing time from my fiction writing; it's enriching it. It's helping me build characters, create complications, analyze motivations and reactions. And it's paying some of the bills.

Like I said. Win-win.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Did I mention I have a job?

My first article for the Amigoe Express (a Curaçao newspaper) was published today. Centerfold and everything. It's only available in print, but if you want to read it online, here's a link to the PDF.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Same Old Tired Emotions?

The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
~ Mark Twain

For your born writer, nothing is as healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.
~ Catherine Drinker Bowen

Fill your pages with details. Work hard to get the right word.
~ Robert Littell

How important is the right word to you? How much time do you spend trying to find it? Is there anything--plot, characters, tension, etc.--that trumps that right word for you in terms of value to your writing?

Go on, share. I'm curious.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A whole month off...

Where did May go?
(Image credit)
May flew by and--not a single post. Oops.

Yes, the A-to-Z took a lot out of me this year. Never again with more than one blog, never again in the middle of another project...

'S a matter of fact, maybe never again. Or maybe just not next year. It would be nice to just spectate for once. Get to visit blogs instead of stressing over my own posts or about not keeping up with the lovely comments y'all leave here. Which I love, and which I'll miss...

Well. We'll see. I love being a part of the A-to-Z, but I feel I miss out a lot. Yes, pre-writing is the key. (Why the hell is it so hard to follow one's own advice?) If I'm able to get at least half the post prewritten by January, when the sign-up list opens, maybe--maybe--I'll consider having another go. Right now I'm simply too exhausted to consider it.

What's been happening here over the last 30 days? Well, my laptop broke down mid-March. (The fact I did the A-to-Z on a borrowed computer might've contributed to the aforementioned exhaustion.) No, it's not fixed yet. It's a 2007 MacBook, and one of the fans is shot--but Apple doesn't manufacture it anymore, which means the pseudo Apple store here can't order it. They told me it's available on eBay or similars, but they've failed to give me (in spite of numerous calls to remind them) the specifications on what, exactly, I need to order.

Perhaps a new laptop is the solution. Sadly, seeing as I'm a starving artist (ahem) with a copious family of dogs who cannot starve, that solution isn't much of a solution at all.

Then the washing machine broke down. And then my car broke down.

This sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.

I'm done whining, though. I have this awesome borrowed laptop (borrowed from an even awesomer person--thank you, Cor!) to keep me connected to the world and--most importantly--to keep writing. The washing machine couldn't be fixed, so said Awesomer Person bought a new, supersonic and super quiet, one (thank you, Cor!)--and, as an added brushstroke of the Universe's goodwill, the delivery guys even took the old one away. And my car has been fixed. It was expensive, and it's not perfect (yet), but it drives. (Thank you again, Cor!)

It's possible the dogs might've missed the car more than I did. Which is saying a lot.

Awkword Paper Cut
Another marvelous thing that happened in May: I was featured all month on Awkword Paper Cut, in the Writers on Writing section, along with two other (pretty fantastic) writers to talk about Mexico and why we writers must (sometimes) leave our countries to find our writing. Awkword Paper Cut is a beautiful literary journal, and the Writers on Writing pieces provide powerful inspiration--as well as much-needed diversification--every month. Bookmark them, visit often, and enjoy.

2014 A Year In Stories
A 12-vol anthology
published by Pure Slush Books
And then there's the Pure Slush 2014 A Year In Stories project. Yesterday was the deadline to deliver all 12 stories in our cycles. I've delivered 9, have #10 in an almost-workable draft.

(Today, by the way, my June story is happening. Want to read it? You can, for free. It's part of the Amazon preview for the book. Just click on the Look Inside link and... enjoy. If you do like it, please remember I'm the ugly duckling among these swans of writers. Their stories are so worth your time. And money.)

As of last count, there's 315 stories (out of 365) delivered and approved for print. The July volume is now out, too, and volumes January through May have a 20% discount on

Aaaaaaand... The fantastic Susan Tepper, another of the magnificent 2014 authors, has snagged a reading date for the project at the KGB Bar in New York's East Village. Talk about illustrious venues! We'll be there on Wednesday November 5th--so if you're in the NYC area, it would be a super treat if you stopped by.

All right. You're all caught up. Now it's my turn to catch up with you.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#atozchallenge: Zoology

2014: A Year In Stories
A twelve-volume anthology published by Pure Slush Books

I want to end on a light note. Some of the posts in this series got a little ponderous, a tad heavy on the wank--which is ironic, since Pure Slush's slogan is Flash... Without the Wank.

The 2014 project is a landmark happening, and all of us participating are honored to be a part of it, but that doesn't give us--me, at least--the right to take myself so seriously.

Writing is meant to be fun. Yes, it's hard work--especially if one wants to get good enough to play in the big leagues--but I hope life will always find ways to lighten me up.

And this is why I give you the Find your Inner Animal quiz!

Thank you, Hans Pleij
and CURious2Dive,  for the photo--
and for the amazing dives!
Some of the 2014 authors who were in the mood to play along with me and my--sophomoric-ness? sophomoricity?--took the test for themselves or their 2014 characters--or both.

Gay Degani, whose work you read in several of this series' posts, and who's not just part of the 2014 project but also editor at Every Day Fiction, and just had a novel published, is 
an octopus

(Somehow I'm not surprised.)

Mandy Nicol, who's participated extensively in the A-to-Z series for the 2014 project, and who's a fellow animal lover with whom I hope I'm establishing the foundations for a good friendship (even though we live continents apart), is 
a Moose.

Mandy was also the only brave author to volunteer her 2014 protag for the test. Nadia--the seamstress that lives with her mom and gets badgered by her sister, and who'd have no problem at all with a one-night stand (if it happened out of town; otherwise there'd be talk)--is 
a Great White Shark.

(I wonder if she herself knows about her potential to, uh, bite.)

(Image credit)
Stephen V. Ramey, the other author who contributed more material and insight to this A-to-Z series than I could've ever asked for, who's given the project a huge boost by reviewing the day's story every day, and whose 2014 series has a suspiciously eponymous protagonist (although the author insists it's not, at least not completely, autobiographical), is 
a Lynx.


I'm trying hard not to take my own result personally. You'd be sensitive about it, too, if you'd been born in a country where the average height was three inches shorter than yours. I never learned to walk in high heels--in ballet slippers I was already taller than everyone around me (except my dad, who, we therefore assume, is to blame for the whole issue to begin with). The test says I'm...
Not funny.
(Image credit)
a Giraffe.

Luis Villalobos, my character from the 2014 project--the superstar tax attorney, soon-to-be Managing Director at a prime firm, who perceives himself as the prototype of an A personality, the lion of the herd, the Alpha male (and doesn't the fact he's sleeping with his boss--that's right, the MD he's going to replace next year--prove that?)--poor, delusional Luis came out as 
a Big Horn Sheep.

(The "big horn" part doesn't come even close to mitigating the shame of the "sheep" bit. Poor Luis. One wonders if he'll keep fighting to be a lion, or if he'll embrace his nature--and, perhaps, come to be happier. You can read Luis's progress stories for free in the Amazon previews of the January, February, March, April, and May books. The May one is happening tomorrow!)

I'm a lion in sheep's clothing. Hear me BAAAAAAAA!
(Image credit)

And you? If you have a minute to play, go take the test. Are you the animal you expected? Did the result reveal something surprising about yourself?

Most importantly, will you not-so-solemnly swear to do something every day to remind yourself that life shouldn't be taken so seriously?

~ * ~

Thank you for the company on this A-to-Z journey. I apologize for the late posts, the misposts, the long-windedness. I hope you enjoyed discovering these authors as much as I've enjoyed telling you about them, and if you do get a chance to read the books (all or some) in the 2014 series, please do come back and tell me what you think. 

Looking forward to returning all your blogger love during May!

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