Writing–January Projects

January is going to be one busy, crazy month.

I’m rewriting/revising Spirited in Spite for a contest. The deadline is February 5th, but I’m going to try to have the novel done by January 30th. Yeah, considering most of the book has to be rewritten, there is no way this can end well. If I can get it in somewhat readable shape, I’ll be happy.

The contest is in three stages: pitch, excerpt, novel. I will declare this contest a success if I can get past the pitch stage.

Really, since there’s no entry fee, there’s nothing I’ve got to lose by doing this. The hard deadline, the goal, will help keep me focused. I’ve rewritten/revised one other novel, but I didn’t complete it in the sense that I would feel comfortable with sending it. I can’t imagine I can get this book perfect in about 30 days (okay, to be fair it’s more like 45 days since I actually started working on it in December), but what I will end up with when I submit my entry is going to be better and closer to finished than what I’ve got right now. There’s no reason for me to pass up the opportunity to really work on my novel revising skills in a specific time frame and with a definite goal.

There will be stress and frustration. Let’s just hope that it’s not so severe I end up pulling out my hair.

I’ve also got a few short stories that need to be finished from December. “Another Deadly Weapon” is done and ready to go. “How the Night Haunts” will be up on the blog shortly. The rewrites on “At 3:36” ended up separating the piece into two different stories, “At 3:36” and “Powerless”. “At 3:36” needs more work, but “Powerless” just needs some polishing up, I think. “Anniversaries” and the untitled short story need more work, too.

Aside from “Powerless”, every other story is going to wait in favor of the novel revisions. With “Powerless” done, I’ll have four stories (along with “Soul Sister”, “Playing Chicken” (the anthology it was going to be in was canceled), and “Another Deadly Weapon”) to shop around, which I plan to do in earnest. My goal is to submit a lot more short stories this year.

Let’s see how this all works out with my birthday and me being in Chicago for four days. Let’s just see.

Writing–Surprise! Idea!

Sometimes I’m going along, minding my own business, and BAM! I’m hit by a great idea for a story. Naturally, I’m excited by this prospect as ideas to a writer are like gold to anybody. The trouble is I sometimes get great ideas at the most inopportune moments.

I’ve already blogged about how I keep an idea notebook for these ideas. I also have a Post-It note program on my computer that comes in handy for these things (particularly if I come up with an idea for a story I’ve been trying to revise for months and I don’t want to lose it before I get a chance to try it). Both of these things are great. Sometimes I kick myself for not using my idea notebook more. But that’s because, like I said, I get my ideas during the most inopportune times.

The idea for “How the Night Haunts” came to me right before NaNoWriMo, while I was still struggling with the American Vampires outline. “Anniversaries” came to me during Nano. Both great ideas, both with rotten timing. I jotted the basic premise for both stories down on my computer post-its and hoped they’d be there in December.

I don’t mean that I was worried I might accidentally erase the notes. I mean that sometimes, at least for me, a good idea must be acted on NOW for it to be a good story. Giving it any time at all to cool down and it ends up being as appetizing as the skin on gravy. It doesn’t mean that the idea still isn’t a good one, but it does mean that it’s going to be more of a struggle for me to translate that good idea into a good story. Without those piping hot images and that burning need, my appetite for it isn’t as strong.

Some ideas, though, are made to last. The longer they sit, the more they simmer in the back of my mind, so that when I do get to them, I’ve got an even better idea of what I’m doing with the story, even if I wasn’t actively thinking about it. Those stick-to-your-ribs kinds of ideas are the ones that while acted on in a flash might be good, letting them roast a while makes them better.

My trouble is that I don’t always know which one is which. I lucked out this time with “How the Night Haunts” and I think I cut it close on “Anniversaries”. If I had waited any longer on that one, I think it would have burned. Some stories, I’m not so lucky on. The idea either doesn’t pan out on paper or I never get around to writing it in the first place because I can’t rediscover that magic that brought the idea to me in the first place.

But, I never throw an idea away.

You never know. The right time for that recipe might come around again. And I want to be ready if it does.

Writing–December Projects

After spending a month (okay, it was more like three weeks) with a novel, December is short story month.

I have three new ones I’m looking to write. “How the Night Haunts” will be a freebie for a the blog. “Anniversaries” and an as yet untitled one have no definite intention yet, but I imagine I’ll be trying to submit them whenever I deem them ready.

I also have three old ones that are in need of revisions. I need to rewrite “At 3:36” with the new angle and fix the ending of “Another Deadly Weapon” because I’ve never liked it. And then there’s “An Active Sleeper”, which needs something, but I’m don’t know what yet. All I know is I don’t think I’m achieving the affect I want. I’m guessing that one is going to be the big struggle of the month.

All of that, plus working on getting Rejected on Kindle should keep me plenty busy this month.