The Joy of the New

I just finished a new story, one unlike any other I’ve written thus far. I can’t explain the feeling, the excitement, the sense of teetering between promise and trepidation at hopes of getting it in print. If you write, you know it. If you don’t, no words will suffice.

The characters in my tales are always real to me. I could describe to you their physical appearance, their emotional makeup, their mindset. I could predict what they might do in almost any situation. Usually. Sometimes they surprise me.

The same with the settings. I see the surroundings. Smell the fragrances or aromas or stench. Hear the sounds and noises and voices and laughter. Feel the heat or the cold or the wind or the rain. On occasion, it’s at least in part because I’ve been to a similar place. Not always, though. Can’t say I’ve ever been to another planet. Not yet, anyway.

Whether I love them or despise them, the characters and their settings take over a large portion of my thoughts when I’m writing them. Earlier today, Bobby asked if I wanted cheese on my burger. It took me a full minute to answer. I had to come back from the cloud forest to do so. It’s often hard to leave the characters and settings behind! I read once that Rowling said she was sad when Harry Potter’s story was finished. It felt like she was leaving behind a family. I know a tiny taste of that. I often think, “Damn. What next?”

It’s sometimes a few days before I can really pull my head totally out of what I just finished, so there’s usually no question about moving immediately to something else. In a way, it’s like my weekend. I have a couple of days to do all the stuff I should have done but didn’t while I was embedded in another world. I’ve learned to take advantage of that time.

For this story, I’ll set it aside like I did the last one. A few weeks from now, I’ll pull it out, read it again, tweak it and start looking for a publisher.

But now, in this moment, I am basking. Thoughts of my characters and their story still swirl in my head. It’s hard not to keep picking away at the draft. I just have to distract myself with other tasks.

Anyway, when you read this, celebrate with me. Have a beer, or a glass of wine, or a really good brownie. Whatever your favorite treat. Whether or not it ever gets published, it’s a completed draft. That is never a bad thing.

{LATER: Okay, it’s a little over two weeks since I actually penned this post. As I said, I’d only just finished the story referenced above (which is still awaiting the perfect title, but which am tentatively calling “Flight of Fancy”). As you’ll note, I said it’s usually a few days before I can move on to another project. Which just goes to prove there’s an exception to every rule. Not an hour after I finished the draft of this blog post, another story exploded fully developed in my head. I sat back down at the computer and penned it all in a few hours. (That one is still awaiting its re-read, too, and is tentatively called “A Murder of Crows.”)

I’ll keep you posted on how they do in queries.}

Setting the Scene to Write

I have a DJ in my head. For some reason, that sucker likes to torment me by playing the same melody fragment of the same song over and over and over for days (or weeks) without pause. Right now, for example, it’s playing a very old Bette Midler tune from her burlesque days. (“If you’re cracking up from having lack of shacking up…”) The only thing that breaks it off is to feed the DJ a new song, or to play different music, or to watch television, anything to give it some new musical phrase or line of lyric. Unfortunately, as a partially deaf music-lover, I don’t always know the words to the songs, so I make them up as I go. It doesn’t always appease the DJ to sing along if I’m not a fully informed participant.

So a quiet room is sometimes tantamount to tortuous distraction when I write, for the DJ Never. Shuts. Up. I usually listen to a-lyrical (is that a word?) music—psyambient, or New Age, or classical. Favorites include anything by the Peaking Goddess Collective, Entheogenic, Andreas Vollenweider, Carbon Based Lifeforms, or even mixes by FrancoFunghi and other similar real-life DJs. Sometimes, I listen to pieces from a sound-effect generator (mynoise.net), which as a subscriber, I can mix together to create a unique background.

I usually write in my own space at home, but it’s not unheard of to find me at a busy café, where the background buzz of dozens of simultaneous conversations fill the DJ’s need for sound. Even the main room at a library (which is not as quiet as you might think) can fit this bill. I’ve written at the local botanical gardens, or on the kitchen table at work (after hours, boss! I swear!), or on my balcony at home where the birds and squirrels and neighbors and bugs (get away, spider!) take the DJ’s place.

Other surroundings don’t count so much as sound, for me. As long as I can see what I’m doing, I don’t need much beyond a flat space for my computer and a semi-comfortable seat for my…well, you know. The Smudginator (see “What the Heck is a Smudge?” on the “About Me” page), however, doesn’t like it when I write. The keyboard is in direct competition with him for my attention, so wherever I write at home must be specifically equipped to allow ease of opportunity for close personal contact between his ears and my fingers whenever he so desires. If I ignore him too long, he climbs on my leg and “pats” me with his paw while insistently vocalizing his demands. (This is precisely how I learned that the library or a café or even the gardens are a workable substitute for my own apartment.)

What about you? Tell me about your writing space, or if you aren’t a writer, where do you go to create your songs/music/jewelry/paintings/art/etc.?

Fueling the Fire

My friend William recently asked me to explain what I meant by “God” in five minutes or less. After I finished laughing, I said I was pretty sure no one in this reality could explain or describe God at all, much less in five minutes. However, to me, God is that quintessential Other, who I believe is the basis, the energy, the essence of All That Is. Every galaxy, every planet, every sentient, every living thing, every atom, every quantum particle, every everything is made from and filled by and entangled with this Vital Construct. As such, we are all One, and the only thing that isolates us one from the other is this physical realm, these physical bodies. It also means we are individuals, unique unto ourselves, only so long as we are “separate.” Before our entry here, and after we leave, I believe we are part of that larger Whole.

To take this further, if God is Divine, and if the energy and substance that is God suffuses us all, that means we are all (at least in part) Divine. I’ve heard religious people say that they are the children of God, or that they have God in their hearts, or that we are made of star stuff. All these statements, worded to fit their culture of origin, resonate with my own understanding of Divine Nature.

Granted, this is my spirituality in a nutshell. But it summarizes what I’ve believed for years now. Needless to say, time and experience tweaks and nuances my approach to God, but all of it contributes to my Weltanschauung. It’s a very big part of who I am.

I’ve used the word “God” here, but I could as easily have used Divine, or Universe, or The Is, or Allah, or G_D. I wear no religious label—not Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Bahai, UU, Wiccan, Druid, or any other—but it doesn’t matter. My point is that my writing is inextricably connected to my life as a human being. I can’t—don’t want to—separate them, for without those experiences or feelings or beliefs that make up my life, what would I write about?

Thus my system of beliefs is part of my writing. I’m not sure I could pen anything—story, novel, poem–without including it in some way, whether in blatant form or not. It certainly informed my manuscript, The Founders Seed, where it forms the kernels of faith for an alien race. On occasion, real-life twists of spiritual insight show up in my story plots. For example, in my short non-fiction story Dancing Man, the protagonist (me) has forgotten these “Truths” and is reminded after an eye-opening encounter with a homeless person.

That’s not to say that every character in my stories reflects those beliefs; certainly they don’t. In The Founders Seed, the antagonist believes personal power or greed will fill his empty soul. In Last Call, the protagonist works through a life-altering crisis without any belief in the Divine, and relies on Pragmatic philosophy to support her decisions.

Sometimes, when I hear God’s whispers (or, sometimes, her shouts—I’m not always listening as closely as I should), the lessons I learn show up in my tales, like Seed or Dancing Man or Switch. In these instances, writing helps me work out the kinks in the message, and it is through this process that the story unfolds. I even keep a blank, lined book with me always where I can jot down story ideas that pop into my head. Most of these stories have yet to see physical form, but they are there, waiting, a great many inspired by these flashes of insight.

Does your religion/faith/spirituality inform your writing? If so, how?

Time is a Four-Letter Word

I know. I’ve written about time before. I probably will write about it again. It’s that important. Writing takes time – between day-job and daily commute, between cooking/eating/showering/sleeping, between family and friends and home maintenance, there’s blogging, reviewing, researching, brainstorming, writing and editing and rewriting.

That was the point of my previous post. This time, I want to add a caveat.

You need to make time for yourself.

Let me say that again. You NEED to MAKE TIME for yourSELF.

I read recently (in The Kill Zone Blog, James Scott Bell), that writers need down time in order to be creative. Makes perfect sense, right? Of course it does. I would have argued for this point even as I denied it to myself, running hard-as-I-could toward the next self-imposed deadline. I guess I’m the obsessive type. But reading Bell’s comments on the benefits of relaxation rang a bell (no pun intended) for me. I’ve thought about it over and over since. It totally explains why some nights I just can’t write. No matter how hard I try, it just isn’t there. If I force the issue, I always end up rewriting what I just labored over for hours.

So I’ve learned to listen to that whisper – or shout, as the case may be – and walk away from the keyboard when it comes. Even so, I feel guilty. As if I’m shirking.

I’m not. I’m not. I’m really not. (Talking as much to myself as I am to you.) So I’m learning to use my “off-time” wisely, in ways that stimulate the creative juices under the surface, so that they feed and/or inform my work.

Let me clarify that I’m not talking here about directed “unfocused” time inserted into your normal writing routine, where you take 10-15 minutes away from the keyboard to refocus (also a very good idea and highly recommended by the voices of experience). I’m talking about deliberate mini-vacations from your writing time to recharge your own batteries.

Doing what, you ask? Lots of things come to mind, but I do have a few favorites.

I used to be an avid reader. Once I decided to write, I thought I had no more time to read. All that “spare” time needed to be focused on putting out my own books or stories. Hah! Experienced voices in the writing world laughed me down, figuratively or literally, and I eventually listened. Now I am always reading something. Stephen King says he never goes anywhere without a book. I’ve taken his advice. Armed with a Kindle and a library card, I always have something to read. It’s handy on the treadmill, or in a waiting room, or during my lunch hour, or in bed before falling asleep. Sometimes, I read just because I want to goof off. It helps to unplug from my own work-in-progress.

But reading isn’t the only thing I do to disconnect from the drive to write. I love to sit in the evenings with Hubby and just watch mindless television or, on occasion, a great movie. I go to the gym three times each week, where I spend equal amounts of time sweating and socializing with friends. I love to go for long walks with my friend William. We talk about politics (blech!), our daily lives, our respective projects, philosophy. I have to say, though, that Nature soothes me best. Hubby and I have an annual family membership at the local botanical gardens, and I use it liberally. An hour of walking through the beauty there is true balm for my spirit. And I’ve reconnected with my personal journey to the Divine.

How do these activities contribute to my writing?

If you already utilize this practice, you’ll know the answer. If you don’t, I suggest a challenge to you. Read Bell’s blog post (linked above), then find your own method of “loafing” and try it for a month. Afterward, write to me here and tell me how it affected your work.

Also, look for my posts to start veering into some of these other topics. So many things from our daily lives inform and guide our writing, don’t you think? I plan to start including those other things here, where I hope we can explore them together.

That’s all for now. I hear the siren song of my current book (Fingerprints of God, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty—review coming soon). I think I’ll kick back and read a while.

Rewrite

Every writer knows this drill. You put words to paper (or screen), read them over and think, “Hey, that’s not half bad. In fact, I am a genius.”

Okay, maybe not those exact words.

I started my first novel with no clear idea of where I wanted it to go. By the time I took a few classes, made a few pitches, and realized it needed a better focus, I had a bloated, overwritten draft that ran 800,000 words, give or take. Sheesh.

I’ve written about this in previous posts. My point in bringing it up again is that all the experts say a first draft rarely makes it past the slush pile. Still, cutting away the fat in my first manuscript was hard. I had to completely tear it down and start from scratch. I’ve heard published authors refer to this process as “killing your darlings,” and that’s about how it feels. I worked for years on that story. Ripping out whole sections, whole characters, provoked a visceral response, at least in the beginning.

My husband wrote a little song for me during that first and hardest rewrite. Called “Help Me Make It Through Rewrite (or The Author’s Lament)” and sung to the tune of “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” the amusing lyrics chronicled the difficulties I faced during the process. It made me laugh, which helped me keep the whole thing in perspective. Here’s a sample verse:

Should this paragraph be here?
Is this scene description right?
Do I have the agent’s ear?
Help me make it through rewrite

Even looking back through my journal entries from that time prove interesting. Here’s one I happened on by accident while preparing to write this post:

It’s okay to rebuild. It’s okay to tear down that which does not work or fulfill or satisfy to make room for that which will. Just pull apart the bones, lay them out for review, and select what you will use again in a new form. Then step over the dusty relics and move on to the more elegant form.

The point is that facing a rewrite is intimidating, but it’s not the end of the world (though it might feel that way). Knowing you have to start over can be gut-wrenching. But if you think about it, you already have all the pieces. It’s only a matter of putting them back together in a better way. The process is completely worth it. I can say that every time I’ve rewritten a draft, I was far happier with the result than I ever was with the first shot.

So pull out that dusty old draft you wrote ten years ago and give it a new look. Maybe you can use pieces of it to make a new, better novel, one that will catch the attention of an agent or publisher at the next writer’s conference.

You never know until you try.

Intermission

How often have you come back from a week vacation and felt as though you needed a few days off to recuperate before heading back to work?

That’s where I am right now.

But it’s all good. I got to spend time with family exploring new territory in an island nation I’d never visited (Bermuda). Activities were fast and furious the entire time, so even though I took my computer intending to write and blog, that didn’t really happen. Instead, Bobby and I did a helmet dive on one of Bermuda’s beautiful reefs, fed the fishes, learned to drive a Segway, explored Hamilton, toured the island with an awesome guide, saw a few shows, ate way more than we should have, and generally did things we normally never have the chance to experience.

I did, however, take printed copies of chapters from my novel and read through them with red pen in hand. Found ways to tighten and focus, and made the changes. Re-read that short story I talked about setting aside, made a few tweaks. Read another book I’ll be reviewing soon (Fool Me Once). I even spent some of the time just chillin’. I do that so seldom! Professional writers often say that down time (unfocused on anything productive) is essential to the creative process. Hopefully, as I sort through the photos and memories from our trip, a few story ideas will rise to the top.

So this post is short; I’ll be updating the site again later this week (hopefully tomorrow!), so stay tuned.

Back Burner

Recently, I finished a speculative fiction short I’ve shown to no one yet (except hubby). I haven’t even looked at it myself in almost two weeks. I wrote, finished and set it aside.

On purpose.

I’d heard of this tactic before, but never tried it. Then several short stories were rejected months after I’d submitted and I re-read them only to discover the experts had been right all along.

You have to let a story sit.

It makes sense, really. In cooking, a simmer brings out subtle textures and flavors that take time to develop. Brewing requires time for fermentation to convert sugars in the mix to alcohol. With writing, a bit of distance between first draft and second allows the idea to coalesce and mature. In my case, I came back to my rejected pages with renewed clarity. I found it easier to see themes and identify what needed cutting or keeping, editing or polishing.

Since this is the first time I’ve set an unsubmitted story aside to percolate, it was hard in the beginning. I had to dig my head into something else, so I’m fleshing out other ideas, reviewing my novel manuscript (again), getting ready for vacation with my beloved Bobness and family. When I re-read the simmering short in a couple of weeks, the story should feel fresh. Almost like someone else wrote it. By the time I complete a second draft, I hope it will be ready to submit.

But Drema, you ask, how can you be sure? The truth is, I’m not.

Someone asked me recently when my novel would be finished. I laughed and said, “Never.” It’s a fact. My skill is always (hopefully) growing so that every time I read it, I find parts that can be improved. I could edit it and tweak it and refine it for the rest of my life, but if I ever want to see it in print, I have to take a chance. I must make it shine as best I can, then send it off into the world and cross my fingers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’ll be accepted. My skin’s much thicker on the rejection front than it used to be. It’s still tough sometimes, especially since letters with “This isn’t a good fit for us,” or “I don’t think I’d be a good advocate for your work” aren’t very helpful. Of course, it’s a matter of numbers; agencies and publishers receive thousands—tens of thousands—of submissions every year. They can’t possibly offer individualized responses for each one.

Even so, that leaves the writer guessing. Every time, I can’t help but ask myself—is it my manuscript? Did I flesh out my characters enough? Did I lose it on follow-through? Was the story too wordy? Where did I go wrong?

I’m sure it’s normal to think that way, but it’s entirely possible that the story really is a bad fit for the agency (though this is less likely if you did your homework). The problem could even be simple bad timing, something you can’t always anticipate, even if you’re watching the market to see who’s accepting what. Maybe your target agency just signed on with a novel that is similar in scope, or focused on the same readership. Maybe that agent just wasn’t your audience.

On the down side, once you submit a piece to a particular agency or magazine, they ask you not to submit the same piece to them again unless they specifically request it. Since you get only get that one chance, it’s important for your submission to shine as brightly as possible before you hit the “send” button.

So I’m simmering. Rather, my stories are, while I continue to produce. And think. And plot. And scheme.

What about you? Are your back burners full of drafts awaiting fullness?

Like Minds and Other Sounding Boards

Earlier this year I signed up for fiction classes at my local writer’s center (The Muse Center – the-muse.org). Two were one-time workshops: one to focus on finding and querying an agent, and one to discuss the importance of the first 1000 words in a manuscript. Both were excellent, and gave me a lot to think about. The third one broke up into six sessions on writing fiction. For each class, three students submitted up to 15 pages of a work in progress, while we all critiqued each other’s work.

Critiquing is new to me. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having gone through it a few times now, I can tell you this. It’s sometimes a challenge to listen to critical input without defending what you wrote. Our workshop mediator, Lamar Giles (www.lrgiles.com), set up a “cone of silence” rule. When others in the class are commenting on your work, you may not speak. At all. Afterward, you may only ask questions for clarification. You may not, under any circumstances, defend your work.

I didn’t expect it to be so hard.

But from what I understand, this is typical of critique groups, and it makes sense, if you think about it. Once your novel is on the shelf, you can’t be there to defend or explain unclear plot points or character actions to your readers. If they can’t figure it out for themselves, you’ve lost your chance to win them over.

A writer spends an enormous amount of time with her characters and plots and devised worlds. Between their initial creation, early drafts, revisions and subsequent rewrites, she understands her stories intimately, so it’s impossible to see problems that lurk within the narrative. That’s where fresh eyes come in. Believe me, it goes way beyond picking nits. A new reader can easily pick out overused words or plot flaws or character weakness. As the writer, I’m grateful for the feedback. I always have the option to disregard any of the input offered to me and sometimes, if it goes against the grain of my intent for the story, I do. Far more often, though, my critics’ words hold water and I make changes accordingly.

I’ve also joined a local critique group in the hope of ongoing support from other like minds. So many published authors I’ve met say this is helpful—not only to polish a story or manuscript, but to improve your writing skills. Of course it would; when you aren’t listening to feedback on your own work, you’re providing feedback to other writers on their work. Believe me, when you’re spotting glitches and weaknesses in another person’s writing, it’s a natural next step to see the same sorts of mistakes in your own work.

It took me a while to find a local critique group, so as I mentioned in a prior post, I enlisted beta readers, people who (hopefully) haven’t heard me yak ad nauseum about the story or its plot and characters before they read it. They don’t need to know the essentials of story structure or what the industry will buy. They only need to provide input you, as the writer, need to know. Did they enjoy the story? Was the plot clear or confusing? How did they feel about the characters? I always give my beta readers a set of questions to answer, so I can have targeted input to help me polish my work. With their help, it’s easier to spot flaws on the pages, especially if every single reader makes the same or similar observations.

But here’s the thing—and pay attention: this is important—regardless of how well it’s done, not everyone will love what you’ve written. In my own admittedly limited experience, I’ve had beta readers (and critiquers, too) comment with completely opposite feedback on the exact same point in my manuscript. One reader will love the characters, find them well-fleshed-out and engaging. She’ll love the protagonist and root for her. She’ll despise the villain and cheer when they fall. Another reader will say the characters are flat and uninspiring. One reader will fall into the settings and imagined worlds, while another will be confused and bored, or feel that there is too much description. Same characters. Same exposition. Same settings. Same manuscript. Wildly differing opinions. Even the best of bestsellers doesn’t appeal to everyone, so take all feedback with a grain of salt. Use what makes sense, and discard the rest.

It’s a challenge, sometimes, to listen to people—even well-meaning people—tear down your baby, especially when you’ve worked so hard to write it in the first place. But whether you plan to take a traditional route to publishing, or self-publish your best-seller, you only get one chance to wow your reader. It seems the better option, to me, to take a few figurative gut punches before your manuscript sees the light of day. I keep reminding myself that none of the comments are personal; they are about my work, not about me. That helps (some).

All that said, I still sweat a little when handing over my current work-in-progress. What’s your experience with critique groups or beta readers? Any advice or helpful tidbits to offer?

Idea Storm

For some reason, lately my head is full of ideas for stories.

No, seriously. It’s always been full of ideas for a single story, one that had many parts and threads. Now, the ideas are independent of that tale, branching out into a number of different directions and genres. Two new novels are simmering amongst the other clutter in my brain – a crime/detective story, and a tale of dystopian society where everything is not as perfect it seems. A number of short story ideas also clamored for attention until I finally wrote them, including a ghost story, a tale of what happens when you get what you wish for, and an inspirational piece based on an interesting real-life encounter with a street person in my city. I’m still working on a literary story about an elderly man’s life as it comes full circle. (I’ve gotten a lot of help on this one from the Island Pond, Vermont historical society. Use your resources, people.)

Maybe these ideas were sparked when my friend Chris sent me an e-mail with a contest challenge. Sponsored by the American Philosophical Association, entries required a limited word count (naturally) and had to include some sort of philosophical thread. The deadline for submission was only about a month away, and at first I thought I couldn’t possibly make up a whole new story, much less write and finalize it by that date. I shoved the idea to the back of my brain and left it to simmer.

About a week later, just as I was drifting off to sleep (told you!), an idea for the story exploded into my mind almost fully fleshed out. I dragged myself out of the warm bed to make notes, started plotting it the next day, and submitted it more than a week early. I’m actually pretty proud of this little tale. The contest offers a $500 first prize, plus publication in Sci Phi Journal, and of course I hope to win. But the money is secondary to publication. So far, I have no credits on that score, and a published short story would be a notch in my belt, so to speak, something I can mention in my queries for a novel. Better still, it’s encouragement, better than any carrot on any stick. Also? Short stories are, well, shorter than a full manuscript. I can finish and submit multiple stories in the time it would take to finish one novel. It feels oh-so-good to finish a project that quickly, especially when I put so much of myself into every piece!

It was after that story began to come together that other ideas began popping up here and there at odd moments. (Friends and family, I hope that explains the distant, somewhat loopy look that comes over my face at unpredictable moments during our chats.) Now they’re coming so fast it’s hard to know which one I should write first.

I’ve only done very basic research into short-story markets, so I can’t offer much input on those yet. Still, common sense says “Do your homework.” Before I submit to anyone, it’s smart to check out any fine print on their website, specifically:

  • Do they allow simultaneous submissions? In other words, can you submit the same piece to other forums while waiting for their decision?
  • Do they pay? If so, how much? How long after acceptance/publication before you can expect payment? Sometimes, as I mentioned above, payment in cashy money isn’t the only (or even best) benefit to exposure in this market.
  • Do they require exclusive first print rights for a specified period of time? If so, how long must you wait before submitting it elsewhere?
  • Does it need to be previously unpublished? (The APA contest mentioned above fit this requirement.)
  • Other than first printing, do they make any exclusive claim on your rights to the story? (This is important! Don’t give up your rights to your work!)
  • What requirements are placed on you, the writer? For example, Sci Phi Journal’s normal pay rate is a percentage of subscription sales. They ask their writers to promote the journal on their social media, websites, or any other online platform since it can’t continue to exist unless the issues sell. Also, SPJ requires that fiction submissions be accompanied by a “Food for Thought” paragraph, touching on or explaining the main Deep Thought from the story.

Look for other details, like word count, submission format, content focus, readership, and be smart—don’t submit a sci-fi story to a romance magazine. (Duh.) Read reviews of the forum. What do readers have to say about its content? Do you want to be associated with it?

I must say, I’m excited at the thought of forays into this new market. The APA contest results will be announced at the end of April (we hope), so I’ll let you know what happens. Now I just have to decide which story I’ll write next.

(An afternote: I wrote this blog post a couple of months ago. I know now that I did not win the contest, but I have gone on to submit it elsewhere. I’ll keep you posted.)

It’s Been How Long?

Wow … I just realized it’s been a whole month since I posted – Sorry y’all! It’s been a crazy few weeks and the time just got away from me. (Read “Finding Time to Write,” also posted today.)

Truth is, in the last month, I finished a tiny revision on my novel and sent it out to Beta Readers (thanks to those dear, loving souls!). I finished one short story, revised another, and am writing two new ones (yes, both at the same time). I’m querying three short stories to various magazines, as well as preparing my novel to submit to yet another querying process.

In the meantime, I read every chance I get. I tried my best to read Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer, but at 52% of the way through, I still had little or no idea what the heck was going on. (Look for a partial review coming soon.) So I cut my losses and started Stephen King’s On Writing, which is one of the most excellent books on writing I’ve ever read. I subscribed to Ploughshares magazine, a publication to which I’d dearly love to submit (and be accepted), and read every single word of my first issue. I also subscribe to Analog, and have read most of the May issue. I’ve read online ‘zines, too. In the beginning, it was an effort to find out what sorts of stories they’d print. But there are so many good e-zines out there! It was hard to stop reading! I’ll add their links to my links page ASAP.

In the meantime, I finished out the last two sessions of my Fiction Workshop at The Muse Center, both of which involved homework that filled an evening (or two). And those are just the writing activities.

So I’ve been a little busy. Still, bad Drema – no cookie! I promise to try and do better to keep up the pace here on my site, too. I’d like to post weekly, and will try to make Mondays my website night; stay tuned to see if I can make that work.

Thanks for sticking with me.