Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bad Fairy 2 status report: Chapter 12

So this might sound like a cop-out of an update but I ended up doing very little actual writing on the Bad Fairy sequel this week. (As I'll explain below, I was preoccupied with some short story stuff.) I finished Chapter 12. And actually I decided to end it earlier than I'd originally planned because it was just too many things happening that I wanted a little divider.

Words: The rest of Chapter 12 came to 1,830 words, with Chapter 12 totaling 3,073 words. 

Basic details: Delia gets all annoyed that she's basically mastered all the disciplines in the magickal world by age sixteen, starts working on some pioneer projects, and ends up deciding it's not really worth it to bring her discoveries to the larger world since the same things that always kept her back would probably continue to do so. She begins in earnest to find a way into the afterlife so she can uncover the mysteries of death, and by the end of the chapter she's figured out how to get in.

The good: This chapter is really intense and lets me show my character doing something that doesn't come easily. It's also the catalyst to begin stampeding toward the event that causes the climax of the book. And there was a cool memory rewind that let me show some of the stuff that happened in the last book--which is a nice reminder for old readers and an interesting bit of context for people who maybe start with this book.

The bad: Delia is by herself throughout the chapter and doesn't speak, so I worry that the narration will feel plodding through lack of interaction, even though I think the focus is appropriate. Also, some of the thoughts Delia has at the beginning of the chapter are super bratty, and I know not everyone finds it easy to tolerate her massive ego.

Thanks for making this for me, Darth Lolita. ;)
The quotes:

After Delia succeeds in a certain levitation technique in an advanced spellbook:
I picked up the spellbook and savored the words on the page, grinning as I wondered if its author had even been able to perform these last few spells. The wording sounded so theoretical, as if the magicks listed in the back of the book were based on guesses, not practice. Looking longingly at the last page, I turned it to stare at the blank inside cover that had been waiting all those years. Sadness came over me. I’d performed the most difficult task, and now there was nothing left to learn. 
Thoughts after Delia ponders joining a sage organization so she can spread knowledge about her own magickal inventions:
Suddenly I laid my pen to rest and dropped my forehead into my hand, closing my eyes to think. Here I go again, I scolded myself. Getting carried away. Enthusiasm sometimes smacked me so hard it temporarily blinded me, but I needed to learn how to escape its claws. Joining a team of magickal experts would do me no good at all. Sure a group of people who made it their business to document and master the full spectrum of magick available to our people would be uniquely qualified to support my interests, but they were just another group I’d have to prove myself to (and probably get rejected from for the same reasons everyone else had done so), and there would be annoying internal politics, pressure from outside parties to disseminate my knowledge to the masses, and more accusations of doing it all for attention. 
Delia prepares her space for investigating the afterlife:
The meditation room was prepared for my venture into Summer-Winterland. The air was cool with the shallow breezes venturing inside from the night sky; the light was low and fickle as several lanterns guttered in the corners, casting shadows dancing across the walls; my cushioned stool had a new drape of sparkling black velvet to nestle into as I claimed my throne as queen of the underworld. Drake would have said I was being dramatic. But what exactly in this world was more dramatic than death?
I won't show the details of how exactly she gets here, but when Delia does find out how to access Summer-Winterland:
At first it felt like hitting a wall, but then I was flooded with a feeling of place—like traveling back in time to the beginning of my existence had physically brought me to a location that was somehow both within me and outside me, and I had simply needed to be shown the path to remember where it was. It was an all-consuming sensation of hereness and nowness, with nothing before me but a great curtain.

A veil that separated me from the other side of life.

I reached with my awareness and touched it.
And I'm not going to say any more about that. :/

There are other cool lines but I don't want spoileryness all over the Internet. :P

So, part of the reason I didn't do any writing this weekend (all the new words on Chapter 12 are from last night!) is that I was in short story submission mode. I woke up on Saturday with a text from my mom saying she'd read "Aquarius," the short story I wrote last week--she's the only person I sent it to, and I wasn't actually going to send it to anyone because I'm a jerk, but she asked. The first thing she said about it was that it was too short.


Basically she wished it hadn't ended so soon and that I would turn it into a whole book. I said I really didn't want to (and that I didn't think I was enough of a space nerd to do so), but she was really enthusiastic about it and was worried that me submitting to a magazine would ruin my chances to develop it into a book later if I did want to. (I explained why that's not true and she gets it, I think.) Who'd have thought I'd be able to get my mom to like science fiction?

I made this thingie as an emblem for the characters' spaceship. ;)

So anyway, I submitted the short story to the magazine I wrote it for on Sunday. Then I got all submission-happy and ended up submitting like four more stories to other markets.

I joined The Submission Grinder (and you should too, if you make enough submissions to fiction markets and you want to both keep track of them better and help other authors learn what to expect). I'd used it plenty before to look for markets, but this weekend I put all my data in for the submissions I've done, all the way back to 2009. Plugging in your data helps show what's a normal wait time for submissions, and if a market has enough data, you can see whether your wait time is abnormal, and whether you can expect a personal or a form rejection, or what percentage they accept. (Remembering of course that acceptances tend to be over-reported and rejections aren't always recorded.)

What I didn't know about it until I made an account was that you can plug in the stats on your various pieces, including word count and genre, and then you can just click a button to search for markets that take what you write. (You know, instead of manually searching the database each time you want to send a story out.) You can adjust it to show you only markets that pay a certain pay rate or to exclude anthologies or whatever you want. If you get a rejection, after logging it, you can click "find a new home for this story" and it will run your search for the next place. It takes the soul-sucking drudgery out of the process and sort of makes it fun.

You can also "favorite" and "watch" markets so you can easily make notes and remember what you want to do with them--like if you're waiting for a submission window to open or you have one marked to send a story to if it gets rejected from another place. And there's a running (anonymous, unless you ask to be otherwise) tally of recent responses on the front page of the site, showing you markets that are rejecting and accepting right now. You can click on them and get new ideas about active markets and see if they're right for what you write.

The site's in beta, so there are some things that don't really work (like, it allows you to identify a piece as nonfiction, but then still has subcategories and "story types" that only pertain to fiction, and the graphing for less popular markets is weird-looking and non-intuitive). But anyway, that's enough fangirling about the Submission Grinder for now. The point is that I went through and reviewed my submissions to evaluate what stories needed to be sent out again, what stories had been out long enough that I should query about them, and what stories I should rewrite.

So I spent a little time cleaning up a couple stories, and then there was one I completely rewrote. It was an ancient short story called "Baby Talk." Initially there wasn't much to it; it was 650 words of fluff and it had gotten rejected from a couple magazines in the past, but I didn't think I had much hope of placing it anywhere. Rereading it was painful because it was honestly disappointingly amateur, but it was still a cute idea. (Hey, come on, I wrote it in 1999. The idea wasn't bad but the execution was not great.) So I decided to add almost a little sub-plot to it (which is only vaguely hinted at because you overhear someone talking on the phone) and all the words of the rewrite are original. It's now 1,400 words instead of 650, and I wrote that on Sunday, read it over, and submitted it somewhere.

Unfortunately since I've been hitting up extremely competitive pro markets, I'm probably going to be getting a lot of rejections in the coming days. But that's showbiz. I mean, that's writing.

So, according to my submissions manager, I have ten pieces out for consideration right now. (And two that were accepted but not yet published, as well as two that were accepted and have been published.) They're all different stories except for one--there's one in the list being considered by two places right now. There's also a story that is in a weird place--the editor e-mailed me to say they're holding it, which usually means it's a strong maybe but they're waiting until deadline to make final decisions on what to include and what to reject. These are all fiction. I don't have any nonfiction out for consideration right now.

Now I really want to get busy on writing the other short stories I have in mind so I can enjoy entering them into the Grinder and submitting them. Man I'm weird. XD

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