2014: The Year of Getting Serious Again

Happy-2014-free-wallpaper

First, to Everyone who reads this, Happy Holidays! I wish that all of your wishes come true during the next year and that you live life to its maximum capacity. Always.

This past year has been rewarding and challenging. I graduated with my associates degree, lost one job and got another with the same employer (lost student assistant job at St. Petersburg College when I graduated and got hired back on a few months later as an OPS writing tutor), started new university to go for the bachelors degree, moved into a new apartment  in the downtown area, and gave up my car (it was a piece of shit anyway) for the benefit of walking for exercise.

I was busy writing many essays for my junior year at the University of South Florida, so my creative writing efforts suffered a little. But those essays helped me improve my writing, and I hope all future academic witting will do the same.

For my resolutions in 2014, I don’t have many. I’m keeping it simple and doable.

  1. Continue to improve my health by walking. School and grocery is within walking distance from me now, as well as many other activities and entertainments that the downtown St. Pete area has to offer.
  2. Write new stories. Turn on my creative juices and get them flowing whenever possible. Write for fun, but also write for publications. Poems, too. I want to write some more poetry in 2014.
  3. Submit stories and poetry to major publications and journals. I’ve already started on this one. I’ve submitted my previously unpublished award-winning short story Parker’s Pygmalion to Glimmer Train literary magazine and three unpublished poems to Northwestern U’s Tri-Quarterly journal. I’ve started some fantasy and sci-fi stories that are pretty good so far, I just need to finish them and get them out into some slush piles. I will also continue to try and get some previously published stories reprinted.
  4. Keep my magazine going. My side-project as publisher and editor of the spec-fic ezine The Were-Traveler has taken a toll on my sanity this year. Finding time to read and respond to stories while reading 2-3 books a week for lit classes has been very challenging, but I have no desire to stop doing it now. In fact, I’m even more determined to make it work. I may ask for help along the way, but I’m definitely keeping it going. I nominated 3 stories to Critter’s P&E Readers Poll and wish I could have showered other writers with that kind of love and recognition. I’m still trying to find all those yearly award venues out there, where I can give my authors the cred they deserve. If any of my readers have recommendations, please let me know.
  5. Keep my sanity at school, work, writing, editing, publishing. This is a given. I must maintain a sensible balance to this crazy happening that is my life. Need to breathe a little in between and enjoy other things, too. Relax, take deep breaths, meditate.

That’s it. I’ll probably add goals as I go along through the first part of the year, but this is enough to start with.

I hope all of your goals for the coming year lead to success and happiness.

Advertisements

“The Apprentice’s Mother” Published in Sunday Snaps Anthology

ColorPF5.500x8.500.indd

Sunday Snaps front cover via Chuffed Buff Books.

My latest short story “The Apprentices Mother” appears in the anthology “Sunday Snaps” published by Chuffed Buff Books. Sales from the book will go to benefit the Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.

Susan May James of Chuffed Buff Books is the creative force behind the inspiration for “Sunday Snaps.” It got started when she started posting photos on her website as writing prompts. The image below served as the Muse for my story.

door knocker

Image courtesy of Susan May James.

Here’s the cover blurb for the project:

“This colourful and quirky collection contains short stories, flash fiction, vignettes and poetry of various styles and genres. It developed over the course of 52 weeks in 2010/2011 whereby a series of ‘Sunday Snaps’ were posted online as a creative writing exercise. Writers were invited to use the snapshots as inspirational writing prompts. The result: an eclectic assortment of light-hearted comedy, romance, dark tales, tragedy, slice-of-life stories and expressive verse. While the spires of Milan Cathedral and a café in Toronto provide the backdrop to romance, elsewhere a marriage is arranged, children grapple with loss, and a woman rushes to the side of a life-long friend. With a bit of French cuisine, a spiteful kitty, a mother’s pact with the devil, a birthday kiss and a dash of supernatural revenge, this unique collection offers a tale for all! Stories and poetry by: Sam Adamson, Kim Bannerman, Cath Barton, Dominique Boller, Juliet Boyd, Jodi Cleghorn, Sandra Davies, Miriam Dunn, Rebecca Emin, Annie Evett, Stacey Faulkner, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, D A Volpe Herskowitz, Stephen Hewitt, A J Humpage, Steve Isaak, Mandy K James, Susan May James, Maria Kelly, Mari Lee Kozlowski, Lisamarie Lamb, Shannon Lawrence, Tyrean Martinson, Tony Noland, Linda Olson, Roslyn Ross, Tony Schumacher, and Ren Thompson. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services. For details on the Canadian Red Cross, or to donate without purchasing a book, please click: Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.”

You can order the print edition from Amazon.com at:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Snaps-Susan-May-James/dp/190885801X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1368636263&sr=8-3&keywords=Sunday+Snaps.

And you can get it from Amazon.ca at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/190885801X/sr=8-1/qid=1368636517/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1368636517&seller=&sr=8-1

If you’re in the UK, it can be found at Book Depository…they offer FREE WORLDWIDE delivery: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Sunday-Snaps-Stories-Susan-May-James/9781908858016

Also for readers living in the UK, it can also be ordered online at Foyles for in-store pickup or for delivery: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/sunday-snaps-the-stories,james-susan-may-9781908858016

And, of course, It can be ordered from the Chuffed Buff Books website – http://www.chuffedbuffbooks.com/bookshop/sunday-snaps-the-stories/.

Susan May James from Chuffed Buff Books has said that the kindle edition is in progress and will be available in the future.

Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

megrad2

Graduation from SPC on May 4, 2013

I have not made a post in quite some time. I apologize. When you’re a college student/author/publisher/editor/part-time employee it’s hard to find time to blog.  I am enjoying a nice summer break, though, so I hope to be able to catch up on my posts.

First, let me catch you up on the recent past. After a grueling spring term, I graduated from St. Petersburg College with my Associates of Arts degree on May 4th. It may not seem like a very significant accomplishment to some folks, but it means the world to me. I am an older student (47…not afraid to say it) who was told in high school by a guidance counselor not to waste my time with college. I wish he could have been there as I not only proved that it wasn’t a waste, I did so by graduating summa cum laude with a 3.95 G.P.A. and by being a finalist for one of SPC’s most prestigious academic honors, the Apollo Award. I didn’t win, and that doesn’t matter. Just to be considered for it is a huge accomplishment that will no doubt have a lasting effect on my life.

Ahead lies my goal for a BA in English Literature. I’ve chosen to remain in this area and transfer to the University of South Florida—St. Petersburg campus. I’m not quite ready to move out of Tampa Bay or Florida yet. The St. Pete campus of USF is gorgeous. It sits right on Tampa Bay with lovely water views from nearly every building. I’m looking forward to starting my classes in the fall…one of which includes a literature class on the occult. Hell yes!

Now for the present and future of other aspects of my life.

This summer while I am off I have many goals. Here are a few.

  • Employment. I lost my student job at SPC, so I’ve been working on updating the resume and creating a portfolio. I hope to use it to land my next job.
  • Writing. I have lots of writing goals for this summer.
    • More Blog Posts. That’s a priority. Need to get back into writing more frequent updates and doing the writing prompts again.
    • Parker’s Pygmalion. I’ve decided to upload my Phi Theta Kappa award-winning short story to Smashwords as a free e-book. I have to start doing this indie thing soon anyway, and this is a good story to start with. If it works out, I will likely add it to Kindle on Amazon as well.
    • Kill the Crow. I’ve begun putting the stories into one document. I still need to finish writing and editing a few of the tales for the book, and get it formatted for publishing. Once  that’s done, I will upload it to Amazon…maybe Smashwords again, too.
    • Quellseek: Army of Empaths. I have people who will murder me if I don’t finish this novel,  so I’m working on it. The biggest problem I’m encountering is that the plot bunnies have tortured me with another great idea, one which I’ve started the research on already.
    • The Dragon Siblings. See above. I’ve got Phandara and T’kanyae (a.k.a. Kane Anthony) Morphyrades story starting in my head and I’ve begun a research project on it involving (fictional and real) sorcery and alchemy.  I don’t even have a title for this yet and have no clue about the scope of it, because Quellseek and that series MUST come first. The tale of Rafael Errick, Emory Atarem, Marta Sanis, Alverin Ness, and Wellynd Niles/Well-and-Truly must be brought to a close and that could take 2-3 years to tell it all. The Dragons will happen at some point, though. They’ve sort of already happened in some pre-cursor/same multiverse short stories.
  • Publishing and Editing. 
    • The Were-Traveler. Yes, I also edit and publish a speculative fiction magazine. It’s a rewarding venture I dove into like a madwoman and for the moment I’m enjoying it. Not quite ready to give it up yet. I recently posted the descriptions for up-and-coming issue themes. I’m looking forward to some of the upcoming themes. I may have to pen something myself for the Lovecraft/Poe issue. So tempting.

Life is going to be a challenge for me once school starts again in August. I have decided to attend USF full-time, which means I will have even less time for the other parts of my life than I do now.

Going to do as much this summer as possible…got to get it while the gettin’s good.

2013: Adaptations

© Redshinestudio - Fotolia.com

© Redshinestudio – Fotolia.com

Here we are, this year coming to a close and staring down the barrel of a new one.

2012 was a great year. Many good things happened. I won some awards both for academics and for writing. I didn’t publish as many short stories, but I feel like the ones I did publish were better stories. I got paid for my first story, Nowhere Land, and that story got some great reviews. I had my first reprint: my story The ABCs of the Apocalypse was reprinted in The Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2. I had a vampire story, The Bloodletter’s Tale, published in the Flashes in the Dark e-zineI have a story called The Apprentice’s Mother, being published in the Sunday Snaps anthology soon.

I ventured into journalism, writing a story for the school online newspaper about President Obama’s visit to one of our campuses.

I was nominated by my school for the All Florida Academic Team. I had a short story win two academic awards.

I did not do everything I planned to do in 2012. I’m still working on getting my book of short stories finished and out there in the world.

That being said, my list for 2013 contains some items of old business.

There are also some major changes in store for me in 2013, some life adaptations that I’ll be making. But as a friend of mine, Sophie Solitaire once told me: “You have to adapt or you will die.” Sophie is a character in my post-apocalyptic story Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End-Time Girl. 

2013 Goals:

Writing/Publishing Goals:

Kill the Crow — Get the stories that are going in it finished, get them all assembled in anthology format and find beta readers for the book. Find out how I can publish to both Smashwords and Amazon. If anyone reading this can help me with beta reading or publishing suggestions, please comment. I need all the help I can get.

Quellseek: Army of Empaths, Book 1 — This is the novel I started for NaNoWriMo this year. I want to finish it and let it sit for a bit before I start editing. I’ve also begun note-taking and planning the second book of the series: Blood War. 

Blood War: Army of Empaths, Book 2 — The second book of Army of Empaths. I won’t give too much away, but Quellseek ends with some cliffhanger stuff. I want to start work on Blood War right way, while the momentum and juices are still hot and flowing.

Army of Empaths, Book 3 — I want to begin planning what’s going to happen in the 3rd book while I’m writing the 2nd book, taking notes as I go along on anything that might be a loose end that would need wrapping up. We don’t like loose ends.

Short stories  — I’d like to get some short stories written, I don’t know if I’ll have time. If I get invited to write another eMergent story, I’d definitely say ‘yes.’ I love working with Jodi Cleghorn and the eMergent crew.

I’m also planning a children’s fantasy about a dragon princess, but it’s just in the beginning/tinkering stages right now. And I’m playing with the idea of putting  a volume of poetry together.

The Were-Travler My first year as a fiction magazine publisher went pretty smoothly. Ever since the mag was listed on Duotropes, the submissions have been pouring in. It may be that I’ll need someone to help me with it eventually, but I’m having a lot of fun with it and definitely plan to keep it going.

Academic Goals:

Find a new school. In May, I will receive my Associates degree. I need to make up my mind about what university I’m going to attend to get my Bachelors. I need to make this decision soon. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve applied for some scholarships, we’ll see what happens. 

Awards. I’m trying to get another short story ready for Phi Theta Kappa Regional Awards for this year. I’m also entering a poem.

Survive Spanish 2. I need to pass this class in the Spring. It will count toward my BA. I haven’t been able to practice my Spanish much since I took Spanish 1 in the summer, so this will be hard. I may have to get a tutor. 😦

This is what I hope to accomplish for 2013. If I can achieve a fraction of it, I’ll be happy.

I wish everyone a successful and happy new year ahead!

The Best of Friday Flash 2 Launch Day and My ABC’s

Launch day for Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2 is here.

This is the second anthology of works by authors that post and tweet links to their stories via the #FridayFlash hash-tag on Twitter. Friday Flash is an awesome Twitter community of writers who work together to help each other grow creatively. We read each others stories and comment on them. You don’t just get feedback on your stories through Friday Flash, though, you build relationships with other authors. And in this gig, you need to build relationships.

When I started posting stories on Friday Flash just a little over two years ago, I didn’t know a soul. Now, I have a ton of friends from FF on Twitter and many of us have also connected on Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and even Linked-In. So, if you’re reading this and you are a new writer looking for a) a venue to get feedback on your work; and b) want to virtually meet some of the most kick-ass writers on the net, head over to Twitter and get started.  The Friday Flash web page has more information.

Now for the good stuff…the book! I just missed out on getting into the first volume of Best of Friday Flash, so when it came time for the second one to collect submissions, I had no doubt which story I wanted to send in to Jon and the gang.

The ABC’s of the Apocalypse was originally published in an anthology for Static Movement called Cosmic Catastrophes. I had sent the rough draft to my friend, writer and editor Jim Bronyaur, who sent it back with the words “I F**KING LOVE THIS!” written in black marker at the top. Now, Jim’s a horror guy. For him to say this about a science fiction piece of mine…well, I felt pretty damn good about it. So I sent it to Static, and they published it in Cosmic Catastrophes. After it was published, I posted it for the Friday Flash crowd. It was one of my best loved stories from Friday Flash and garnered the most positive comments of any Friday Flash story I ever posted.

The concept of the story is not a new one. I borrowed the style from a creepy fantasy story I read and liked by Tim Pratt, called Annabelle’s AlphabetAs for the theme, I was inspired by Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, except that Amy in ABC’s has the opposite problem that Charlie Gordon had.

I am happy that BOFF2 liked ABC’s and included it in this anthology alongside some of the best flash stories around.

I will be getting an extra copy of BOFF2 delivered to me in a few days and will be giving it away during a contest soon.

Stay tuned for more information…and you can order a copy here, if you don’t want to wait for my lottery: Order BOFF2 .

Advice for an Aspiring Author

I recently received an email from a reader of my site requesting some advice on writing. This is the first such email I’ve ever gotten from a reader, and I was a little awed that someone thought highly enough about what they’ve read here to consider asking me for my opinion. I decided that instead of responding with a long email, I would ask the sender to keep an eye out for a blog post addressing the questions they posed. Here is the email, followed by my response:

“I’m writing my memoirs. Everyone tells me I have had a wildly interesting and unusual life of careers, entrepreneurial efforts, marriages and love affairs. I’m am in need of direction, tips, suggestions and magic. My memoirs currently consist of a vast collection of short stories. Would you consider reading one of my stories? Better still, could you speak to someone in the Universe and make a referral?”

1): I’m am in need of direction, tips, suggestions and magic. For direction, tips, and suggestions, I offer the following: 

  • Join your local writers group. I’m a member of Florida Writers Association. It’s worthwhile for the networking with other writers. There is a cost with some, so check them out to see what you can afford. You might be able to find one to suit your budget. If not, see if you can locate a writing critique group in your area. Critique groups are great for helping you polish your work with gentle suggestions. Sometimes you can find a free critique group…your only obligation might be helping another writer by critiquing their work. There are online critique groups, as well, if you prefer that. But do your research thoroughly before posting your work to a writers forum, there are some dodgy ones out there. 
  • Join Twitter. I can’t say enough about how great Twitter is for forming relationships with other writers. Most of the writer friends I have, I met through Twitter. Twitter also has chats for writers and weekly hashtag events like #fridayflash and #tuesdayserial, Twitter memes that enable writers to get feedback on their writing from others. See this Writers Guide to Twitter posted on writer/comic Debbie Ohi’s website for help if you’re new to Twitter. And if you’re already on Twitter, use it to form relationships. Communicate with other writers. You will make friendships with people who will encourage you and may offer to beta read your work when you need it. Some Twitter connections may tell you about markets where you can submit your stories. This actually happened to me. You can also follow successful authors, editors, publishers, and agents. Facebook is good, and I definitely suggest connecting there with authors…but for sheer instant communication gratification, nothing beats a tweet. 
  • Duotrope.  If you don’t have an account here, get one. It’s free. You can search for markets to submit your stories to, and track those submissions right from your account. 
  • Start blogging, if you’re not already. You’re reading blogs; you could write one, too. You could post snippets of some of your memoirs. Blogging helps writers build a following of readers, which is why we write in the first place. To be read. Get a free blog at Blogger or WordPress
  • I wish I had some magic for you. I could use some magic myself. The magic is first in the writing, and then in the editing. The magic comes from within yourself. After that, you just need to find a market for your work. The only hint I can offer here is to get skilled with writing cover letters and submission emails. And follow submission guidelines to the T. 

2): My memoirs currently consist of a vast collection of short stories. Would you consider reading one of my stories? Better still, could you speak to someone in the Universe and make a referral? I would love to read your stories, but I would likely not be able to help you much. You are writing memoirs; I mostly write science fiction, fantasy and horror. I’m an editor of a speculative fiction magazine, The Were-Traveler. If you have any spec-fic stories, send them to the email on that site. I’d love to read them. But for your memoirs, your best bet is to cultivate relationships in local writers groups, critique groups, or on Twitter. I’ve sought advice on all three fronts, and it’s helped me improve my writing skills and get published. 

I hope this helps. I wish you great joy in your writing…and publishing success. 

September: Down the Home Stretch

It’s September.

It’s that time when leaves begin to change color from green into vibrant oranges and reds (if, unlike me, you live somewhere where they do that).

It’s also a time for recollection. What have I accomplished the past eight months? How do I move down the home stretch for the remainder of the year?

Accomplishments:

Although writing has been slow during the past eight months, I’ve still been active. I had a story win some awards. Shiny New Pants, which won 1st place at Phi Theta Kappa’s Florida Regional Conference and took 2nd place in the Carolyn Parker English Awards (sponsored by of St. Petersburg College/Gibbs Campus) was recently published by the college’s online arts magazine Ember Skies. You can read it here.

The anthology Eighty Nine published by Literary Mixtapes received a wonderful review from a reader. The reviewer ranked my story Nowhere Land among her top favorites in the book. There’s no words for how great it makes a writer feel to have their work loved by a reader. It’s just….WOW! This is the second person this week to compliment a story of mine, and it’s giving me incentive to get my butt back to writing something…anything!

I have two stories coming to print soon: The Best of #FridayFlash, Volume 2, will be reprinting my science-fiction The ABCs of the Apocalypse, and I have a horror tale titled The Apprentice’s Mother appearing in the anthology Sunday Snaps coming out in October. 

On the academic front, I was nominated by my school for awards: Coca Cola All-Community College Academic and All-Florida Academic Teams. I got a pretty medal in Orlando for All-Florida, and it has led to me being recruited by some of the top schools in the nation. In addition to the Carolyn Parker English Award mentioned above, I also received the Steve Meier award and scholarship from the PTK chapter at my campus (ETA WHO? ETA NU!!) for my involvement and contribution to our Honors in Action project: Science Fiction as a Record of Culture and History. I was thrilled to to be the first recipient of this award, named in honor of our recently retired advisor.

If I have been thin on the writing front, I’ve made up for in editing/publishing. My online speculative fiction e-zine The Were-Traveler is still kicking and was recently added as a legit market on Duotropes. I’ve even had an author come forward and suggest an article for the next issue, which I love! Please, by all means, if you have an idea for something that may lie just a little outside the current theme, let me know. I may like the idea and say “Go for it!” as I have in this case.

Down the Stretch:

The editors of Ember Skies have asked me to write some articles for the college’s online newspaper, The Sandbox. I’m thrilled to be asked and I’m hoping to write a book review and/or some articles for them before the end of the year.

I’m planning to write and submit a short story to Phi Theta Kappa’s literary journal Nota Bene. That would be a nice feather in my collegiate writing cap.

I’m planning another project with my PTK teammates for Honors in Action, and I’m also chairperson this year for Native American Week on our campus so I’m going to be very busy planning events for that.

The Class of 2012 community college graduates will be getting their Associates degrees on December 15th. I will be one of them.

I would like to get some formatting work done on my own anthology, a collection of my short stories titled Kill the Crow. I’ve been working on the cover art and trying to get some of the last of the new stories finished. I hope to start formatting it by the end of the year, at least for the Smashwords market.

Whew! All this and trying to remain a geeky college student. It’s going to be a challenge. Think I can do it?