Saturday, 26 April 2008

Short Storyist Diary: First Acceptances

I'm still gone. I have some time today, as my boyfriend is off earning money (later to be spent on Build-a-Bear, I hope). I've had a few writing successes, so I'll yay about that. They happened before I went away, but things were a little hectic before I left.


More March Fadness

I mentioned in the previous entry that I'd taken part in a Flash-A-Day thing. At the end of this, people could submit their best piece to a competition. The stories were put up anonymously and forum members voted on their favourites.

I won! There was much yaying, as I'm sure you can imagine. It should end up getting published in Coyote Wild as a prize, but I need to get in contact with people to confirm that. Even if that doesn't happen, it's nice to have something that isn't a form rejection.


Poetic Tales

I also mentioned that I'd sent two poems to Boston Literary Magazine. One has been accepted, so hopefully I'll have a link to share in a few months. I did ponder that people might wonder why I discuss poems with the short stories, but to me, there isn't much difference between them. My poems tell little stories too.


Too Much Information?

One of the things I've had to ponder with all this is how much to tell. Some writers blog about everything they do. Every submission sent out, rejection received and 100 words written gets it's own entry. I don't tend to like that style, hence the idea of these diary posts. It puts all that stuff together.

Others don't mention anything, which also isn't good. If I like someone's writing and I'm reading their blog, I want to know where to go to read their stories.

My current plan is to keep on with the sporadic diaries for all those random writing things. I'll probably not focus too much on acceptances, as I don't believe I have eggs until I'm holding them. Accidents happen, eggs get hit with sledgehammers. Or less metaphorically, magazines go bankrupt, they might change their mind, they might turn out to be mushroom haters... you get the idea.

I also plan to post separate posts when stories/poems go live, probably discussing a bit about the story themes, inspiration for it and that sort of thing. I'm open to feedback on whether that's too much or too little information, or the sort of thing you'd be interested in knowing about stories that get published.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Travelling with Tea

I arrived, yay!

I've not done much yet, other than eat pancakes and drink tea. And so, I'm going to ramble about tea (and previous trip funniness).

I have this knack of travelling close to terrorist attacks. One such attack, many journeys ago, involved the underground. Young people carried bombs in rucksacks onto the underground in London.

Guess who was travelling right after it, with a rucksack? Needless to say, I was stopped in the airport to have my bag checked. They don't empty your stuff out. They just feel around. They probably have feeling courses, to know what they're feeling for. One such thing is bags of powder, and I knew she'd found it. She had the "Have a just found a bag of drugs?" expression on her face. So she pulled the bag of powder out...

It was teabags. She laughed and repacked them. I was on a flight to America. It didn't need words to explain why I had teabags.

This latest trip didn't have any major funnies, but it did have a further proof of why I take teabags. They served the tea on the plane with a straw. A straw? I'd understand if Americans drunk coffee with a straw, but they don't.

Plane tea ranges between almost as black as the coffee, because they don't realise it's supposed to be paler, or like dishwater, because they don't realise it is supposed to have some time to brew. I did strike it lucky once, and got a hostess who understood how to make tea. But this is the first and only time I've been given a straw.

...though I won't let my boyfriend get away with waiting at the wrong terminal that easily. I was all alone, in dire need of sugar.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Gone to the Americans

I'm going to be in America from Sundayish onwards. I'll be back after a few weeks. I should get some time to blog, but there aren't any guarantees. I may crank out a few posts before I go, if I get time after packing. I have some yayful news in the making.

(The title isn't a typo. It's a City of Heroes joke.)

Friday, 11 April 2008

Short Storyist Diary: March Madness

Floral BookI did something different in March. I took part in Absolute Write's March FAD (Flash a Day). A prompt was posted each day, and the minions had to write a flash fiction (under 1000 words). Thanks goes to Soccer Mom for organising it!

My final score wasn't too good. Out of 31 prompts, I wrote five stories and two poems. No, poems weren't part of it. I wrote them anyway. One of them is too silly to ever get anywhere, so you can see it now. It was inspired by the prompt 'revenge':

Gone Fishing

The catfish fishes the cat,
who is fishing the fishes
in the catfish pond.

This was the month of looking around flash fiction markets, which mainly meant looking outside of the speculative umbrella.


Finding Micro Markets

Quite a few places state that they'll take small word counts. But they don't put their money where their mouth is, as no very short stories appear in their magazines. I'm talking 100-200 words or less short.

So I went looking a bit further afield for low paid or unpaid places.

Every Day Fiction gets a thumbs up. A new flash fiction is posted everyday. They do publish very short ones. Though the payment is token, they have a good readership and a good community (stories get commented on, yay!). I submitted my FAD drabble (100 word story). The submission process is nicely set out, as they have their own forms for it. I'm sure I'll be submitting here again, regardless of whether the drabble makes it.

Boston Literary Magazine - No payment, though they seem to have a good reputation. I liked the fact they had separate sections for drabbles, dribbles (50 word stories) and haiku. I sent one FAD poem here, along with another unFADish poem.

AlienSkin - They seem to eat new authors who mess up following the submission guidelines. I haven't submitted here. It isn't because I'm scared. Really it isn't. But if I do mess up the guidelines, I have one thing to say: pleasedon'teatme.

Now that's out the way, they take 150 word speculative stories. I don't know what you'd call those. If it goes dribble then drabble, maybe they're drubbles? They just call it micro fiction. I don't have anything of that exact length, but it's possible that one of the FAD stories will end up that length. It's close.


FADish Aftermath

Will any of the FAD pieces get published? Watch this space for news... very slow news, so make sure to take meals breaks while you're watching.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Poetry Cats

I wrote quite a bit of poetry as a child. Most of it has been lost to time. Not all of it though. Some pieces were lurking on an old hard drive, waiting to pounce.

I don't recall my exact age when I wrote this. I think I was about twelve. I won't be winning any literary prizes, but I still like the shapeness of it.

Cat Poem

Monday, 7 April 2008

A 3D Idea: The Benefits of Learning the Basics

Steps of 3D ArtAuria Cortes [page no longer there] talked about how she starts a new novel. When I want to write a new story, I catch ideas in a big net, then squish them between the paper. Poor ideas.

I'm going to be kind to ideas, and talk about something else instead - putting them in a 3D rendered picture. No squishing involved.

I first tried 3D rendering in 2006. Unlike a lot of art, you don't have to draw. Instead, you create the objects in the picture by putting basic shapes together (a model). After that, you tell the program what colour or pattern the model should have (a texture). The computer does the mathematics and turns it into a picture. The image on the right shows the basic shapes of a picture, with the finished version.

Or you can cheat, which is what many people do when they're new to this sort of art. You can get models made by someone else. Rather than having to think about what shapes make up a dragon, you can buy a dragon model, with a scales texture to make it look good. It isn't cheating to use pre-made models where appropriate... the cheating comes from passing it off as your own work. It's the route to quick praise, because not everyone will recognise the models you've used.

I didn't go down that route, as I wanted to learn how to make things myself. My first piece wasn't up to Pixar quality, but all the models were created by myself. The shiny mushroom has been immortalised as my avatar picture.

Tasty Mushrooms

You don't get as many pats on the back for doing it the hard way, as no one is going to make a realistic dragon on their first attempt. But learning the basics means you can turn any idea into a picture, rather than having to restrict ideas based on the pre-made models available.

Yay for giving ideas freedom! And not squishing them.

This is part of a chain, so next is Unfocused Me (famed for his lolfish).

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Microsoft Windows Vista: Chocolate Version

This is a tale about loading Windows Vista onto a new machine. Every version of Windows comes with inaccurate slogans. These slogans are flashed at you as you install it, in the hopes that you'll believe them. Some of my favourite Vista slogans are below. The slogan is in bold, with my comments after it.

Getting it done just got more fun - I'm a poet and I don't know it. Poetry is not dead at Microsoft.

Turn everyday moments into lifetime memories - Like the blue screen of death, letting you know that your computer has crashed. An everyday moment that stays with you forever.

The power to find everything - Everything? The meaning of life? How to make a faster-than-light drive? Why are Microsoft minutes of variable length?

Connect, play, have fun - This reminded me of the slogan for UK Mars Bars (a type of chocolate bar), which used to be "A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play". This has now been made trendy as "Work, Rest, Play".

Mars often goes for rhyming slogans such as "Another way to make your day" and "Pleasure you can't measure". Compare this to the first Microsoft slogan: "Getting it done just got more fun". Did Microsoft use the slogans of a chocolate bar company as inspiration for their slogans? I'm not saying they did, as I don't want to be sued, but they remind me of chocolate bars.

I'm never going to look at a Mars Bar in the same away again.