getting published

I hit 40,301 words into NaNoWriMo and my memoir Sunday evening. The plan is to hit 50,000 by Friday or Saturday and the full 79,000 – my own goal – by December 11th, my birthday. I write between 1400 and 2000 words a day, so I am confident.

I also made the decision to supplement the story-telling aspect with actual emails between Rob and I and IM sessions too. I mined old posts from the babycenter group and the soap opera message board I was a part of through the bulk of Will’s illness up through widowhood as a means of dating and clarifying events. I have been re-reading a lot of my own history in my own words and it has been, uh, interesting, looking back at who I was and how I got here.

There is going to be some rewriting. Early in the memoir I tried to be vague about people and events, especially with in-laws and the widow board, but as I wrote I realized that I can’t make sense of the storyline if I leave things out to spare myself and others embarrassment. I am reminded again of the advice I received on writing this memoir in the first place,

“Tell the story, big and messy.”

So, the incident with Rob’s widow board stalker is in. Fortunately she is no longer a reader of my blog. I think once I left the widow board most of the people there stopped reading and forgot all about me. And I wrote, though not in graphic detail, about my horrific attempts with dating prior to Rob. No real names naturally; it is good thing that I was already in the habit of nicknaming men. I haven’t known a single man who was nameable and the great thing about the Internet is that people conveniently re-christen themselves or are so predictable that their new names jump right off the screen at you.

For example, Rob’s stalker had the cutesy-poo habit of “decorating” her posts with flash graphics of the hearts, flowers and fluffy animals genre. We called her The Hallmark Lady for a long time, although she’s recently been downgraded to Mullet Woman.  My fault totally and I should be ashamed.

Most nicknames are pedestrian, however, and denote occupation or a physical characteristic of equally mundane origin. I don’t spend too much time bestowing monikers, but for purposes of telling a tiny portion of my life’s journey, I guess it’s a good thing I have bothered even a little.

I am also pretty honest about the mother-in-law but without being mean – at least I hope I am not coming off as vindictive. I feel more sorry for Will’s mother than anything else. But it’s hard for me to illustrate just what why I reacted to some things the way that I did without using examples and, even in a memoir, ya gotta show at least as much as you tell. MIL is not someone I would ever have chosen to share a stage with but she is a cast member who has to be acknowledged.

Rob raised an eyebrow – both actually – when I told him I was using our correspondence.

“All of it?”

“Well, no. Some stuff is private.”

The look I got was indicting, and rightfully so, because I have a long track record of indiscretion where writing about my life is concerned. Needless to say, Rob gets to read the manuscript before anyone else, and I doubt I will be looking for other beta reads before February anyway.  But I really want a good, shoppable draft done by April 1st, so I will need to find additional readers other than my husband.

November to April is a good six months from start to finish. I would give myself longer with a fiction novel but my life is really already written up to the current day, so I can’t say that more time would make it more interesting. It is what it is.

I finally finished my Kumari revision and my loving husband patiently read and re-read with his red pen in hand. He loves the red pen part. There is irony in being the red pen wielding beta reader of a former English teacher.

The short is still short. I doubt I added more than 100 words, but it has reached that stage where any more revision will likely ruin it. I need to find somewhere to submit it. I had thought Apex. Am still kinda toying with them but I don’t think the story is dark enough. I have mentioned that they like story dark? Dark to the point of sick. According to my writing group, the main character of Kumari is reprehensible and unlikable but still manages to garner understanding if not sympathy. And of course, I didn’t “go there” in terms of sex or gore. Could have I guess, but just didn’t feel it with this piece. 

I actually have another story that I started writing on the drive back from the States in July. There is nothing like listening to POTUS candidates on the 4th of July to bring on visions of a dark, foreboding future of Stephen King proportions. I outlined my idea aloud to Rob who wondered how I could find such sick images in my mind. 

Yes, he wondered this out loud.

So, Kumari needs to go somewhere else. To a small magazine, I think.

I googled “Canadian sci fi magazines” and found nothing really. Just the magazine that asked for the second look at 2.0, and since they don’t take multiple submissions, I have to wait until I hear back from them on the current story under consideration.

No multiple submissions. NO simultaneous submissions.

The whole “getting published” game is stacked decidedly in the favor of publishers and publications. Not very free market if you ask me.

In the meantime, aside from the novel that is begging for my attention, I have started three more short stories on top of the three that need finishing and the memoir outline that is tapping on my skull.

Oh, and I need to totally rework my three month “plan” because I have changed direction.

But Kumari is done and that is something.

Just a very quick update.

The novella is coming along. I printed a third draft last evening after supper for my Beta reader to comment on.

At this point I am light on words. About 30,000 words light as a short novel is 50,000 plus. I don’t expect that my story will be that long. I am thinking I might add another thirty pages max which at roughly 300 words per page is 9,000 additional words. With the minimum for a submission being 50 pages, I am okay with my estimates. I have the end of this week – minus the weekend as there is masonry to do – to decide what to do, or not, with Beta’s suggestions/comments (which are almost always very insightful or back up something I was already toying with), and then the month of August.

Deadline for submissions is September 15th and I am feeling pretty good about it.

I mentioned some time back that I had submitted a sci-fi story that I have been working to a Canadian magazine based out of Edmonton. Not the kind of magazine that I suspect many of my gentle readers read being science fiction and fantasy based, never the less I was fairly excited and optimistic. The story I sent is the first in a series of inter-related shorts that will tell a whole story once they are all complete. One of the pieces was recently rejected by the annual acrostic contest. I wasn’t surprised. The story isn’t “stand alone” enough for a short story format that insists on being told using the letters for the alphabet for the first word in each line and just 26 sentences long was too intriguing to pass up. The story wrote itself and I am very proud of it. Read Full Article

One of the things that I find hard right now about writing is finding an audience. I could simply publish my fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry on one of my blogs. Not here, perhaps my WordPress site, but somehow that just feels like when I was in school and my stories would be passed around among my friends and classmates. It’s like this blog too or even my writing groups.  Just not enough.

There are writing contests aplenty. Between my two writing groups and a few magazines I have looked through, I have found more than enough contest opportunities. Currently I believe I am waiting on four contests and have three more I can enter. Good. But still not enough. I want to see something with my name on it in a newspaper or magazine. I am plaguing the Globe with one Fact and Argument piece a week now. I submitted one of the stories from my Sci-Fi series of shorts to a Sci-Fi/Fantasy magazine based out of Edmonton. Literary magazines of any genre are hard to find though and many will not take submissions from unpublished writers. So, what’s a frustrated writer to do?

Submit online.

Yes, apparently there is quite the sizable and respected community of literary magazines on line. I discovered this through an article in Writer’s magazine. The editor of wrote a piece about his and others’ online collection of tomes. Quite a list and one that goes back into the late to mid-90’s in terms of longevity. There are even literary awards for online lit mags. Cool.

I made my first submission to a site called Our Stories which looks for emerging writers and promises feedback for submissions within 3 weeks. More than cool. I sent a story I wrote for Rob called The White Boots. I based it on an anecdote he told that was first told to him by Shelley, his late wife. Seems that when she was in high school, there was a boy a bit older than she was whose pick up line was stealing girls’ shoes at parties and leaving his white cowboy boots in their place. Rob said it had happened to Shelley once but that he didn’t know the outcome. I found the whole idea intriguing enough to get out of bed in the middle of the night and jot down the basics of what became a pretty decent short story. When I let Rob read it, he thought it was strange to see personal details of his high school days and meeting Shelley fictionalized but he liked the story a lot. My Fort writing group liked it too though none of the women got the reference to “Aunt Flo” and I came to find out that it is apparently an American slang term for one’s period and not a universal one. Our Stories accepts submissions year round, as do many of the other lit sites do, and like them it will take only one submission per category a quarter. I am working on a few other things that I will look at sending in after March 31st. will take novel excerpts, so I was looking through my novel last night while I sat with Katy in the living room. She wanted to watch Quest for Camelot, an old feature length cartoon that proved a bit too scary. The main character’s father is murdered within the first five minutes or so and it really doesn’t get any better from there, so we switched to Curious George and I went back to surfing through my novel. Now that time has passed since the first draft, I am able to be a bit more objective. It’s pretty good in places but there is revising to be done.

I was telling Rob this morning that I had yet another dream where my wallet (sometimes purse) was stolen and when I found it again, the contents were gone. An obvious loss of identity theme and he wanted to know why I felt that I had lost my identity. Too much cooking, cleaning and laundry? Well, there is that. My mini-inner feminist is disgusted by the extent to which I am really finding joy and fulfillment in making a home for my family, but there is also the issue of teaching. Less and less do I miss the actual job but more and more I realize that I am in between having been a teacher and being an actual writer – partly because of the whole getting published issue. And of course this is just an issue of patience but there is a sense of fibbing when I tell people I am a writer because I am not published and my two biggest works are incomplete.