Tag Archives: short story

My Odyssey Workshop Experience: The Salon & Games

One of the other meetings that occurred, this one weekly, were Friday meet-ups that either took the shape of a Salon discussion or a Game.

Maybe about half the class showed up to these events, some people starting the event and then making their excuses. I think I went to all of them.

The Salons centered around stories or story-telling methods generally. We discussed pre-class readings, both fiction and non-fiction, where I was intrigued to discover just how the views changed from person to person on the pieces we’d read. There was one story especially that many of us read it completely differently, which was incredible and eye-opening.

That being said, it was the Games that were the most fun! :) We’d have to come up with plot additions, with changes in character motivation. Or we’d have to craft world-building additions that wouldn’t contradict a prior rule already stated.

And, of course, there were options to contest an addition to the working plot or world, etc. So there were plenty of arguments as to what would work, what wouldn’t work. Continue reading

My Odyssey Workshop Experience: The Introduction

For those unfamiliar with how the Odyssey Workshop works, it is a six week long course that includes lectures and full-class critiques. There are added Q&A sessions with visiting authors and editors (though “visiting” is only loosely used this year given everything was virtual), a Slam event, and many small side meetings and check-ins.

WHAT IS TO COME!

I’m going to admit, I have always been terrified of anything that draws people’s eyes toward me. The more people there are, the more terrified I get. The more time I have to think about it beforehand, the more anxious I am. There doesn’t need to be a stage. There doesn’t need to be a microphone. There just needs to be people, the anxiety going up in an exponential way according to the total.

So there were a number of situations about the workshop I knew I was going to be muscling through by sheer force of will. First up: the dreaded icebreaker meet.

None one likes these, least of all anyone with even a modicum of social anxiety, and being on a virtual setting does not change things. [I did have bare feet (as I did for 99% of the workshop) to give me a small level of comfort.] I got to meet my fellow Odyssians for the first time via their heads, torsos and backgrounds. We did a typical icebreaker game that divided us into breakout rooms a few of us at a time, and that had the typical stilted conversations that come with having no idea who you’re talking to. Continue reading

Into 2020

I never made proper goals last year, so I don’t have a clear comparison. No way of showing whether I had a good year, a bad year, or some amalgamation of the two. I’m going to crop it all up to being good though, for I’ve had a lot of new beginnings, focused on what I (and we, meaning Steve and I) want out of life.

WRITING FRONT

I had three hesitant ideas back in February.

Firstly, to start submitting my short stories again. On this, because I had been focused on novels for the past few years, I had to first dive through all my old work, dividing everything into piles set for the trunk, for further consideration, or good and just needs a quick cleanup before being sent out. In conjunction with this, I began to do writing exercises with the intention of hopefully getting some flash first drafts that could be eventually included in my submission process while I was sifting through everything else. I didn’t keep up with my exercises as much as I would have preferred, but still completed between 60-80, with at least 10 of them being worthy of edits and submission.

Secondly, I wanted to read more. More specifically, fantasy and science-fiction in the novel and short story departments. I wanted to read more new books, more old books, wanted to become familiarized with newer series as well as test out lesser known authors to find more I enjoy reading. One of the other positives in this respect was to improve my own vocabulary and writing capability, which I think grows with everything experienced. As of yesterday, I’ve read a total of 89 books for the year, not counting those I gave up on, and read a little over 100 short stories, which is not nearly as many as I’d hoped. I’ve also read more nonfiction articles as well, but I unfortunately kept no count on those and honestly, will likely not keep count next year either. All in all, I’m happy. The books went beyond fantasy & science fiction, ranging from nonfiction, to classics, to graphic novels, to even my first foray into YA in an attempt to find good ones since I’m trying to create a shelf full of age-appropriate fun books the kids can grab as they shift from middle grade.

Thirdly, I wanted to begin putting myself out there socially. This was the scariest of all. I talk a little more about this in the personal section, but the shortened idea is that I’ve been conquering my shyness one conversation at a time in the past decade. I will never not be scared, and I accept that, but I subscribe to the belief that practice makes permanent. So I made a reddit account and began commenting. Tried to post once a month on Facebook. Drove up to Balticon and listened to panels because I haven’t quite gathered the courage to make the leap of asking to actually be on any panels myself. Was going to attend Capclave, but a wedding Steve was officiating took precedence, so it’s on my goal sheet for next year.

Quantifiable Writing Achievements:

2 sales and publications: Cessation of Civilization to DreamForge Magazine and I Thought Them Starlight to Flame Tree, both short pieces I like very much.

80,000 words written (this is the bottom level amount that I kept better count of and doesn’t include a lot of writing exercises). Not even 1k a weekday, so I can definitely do better here.

55 submissions.

I’m going to skip counting social media posts because I did not do well. My attempts there were sporadic and scattered.

WRING GOALS 2020

For next year, I hope to complete:

1) 250,000 words spread between short stories, writing exercises and novels.

2) Maintain a rolling 7 submissions out at any given time.

3) Attend at least 2 conventions (I toyed with the idea of requesting to be on panels, but I’m allowing myself to not fulfill that eventual goal.)

4) Not disappear off social media.

Capable goals. Not too arduous or terrifying I don’t think, but perfectly good at keeping me going in the right direction. Wish me luck :)

PERSONAL FRONT

As a family, one of our biggest goals a few years ago was to begin traveling more, focusing on experiences with the kids. In November ’18 we bought an pull-behind RV so that this year we would be able to take home with us, so to speak, and make it a little more affordable. We took three trips total. First, to Williamsburg for a few days over the kids’ spring break where we did tours, saw and talked to most of the shops, and attended the trial of Israel Hands one evening. Then to the Outer Banks during the summer, which is where my family vacations once a year. We hadn’t been in three years and the kids ended up falling in love with the freedom of biking around the KOA. Lastly, we went and stayed outside of Philidelphia for a few days in September. Did downtown Philly, Liberty Bell, etc., one day, Longwood Gardens, including the light display at the fountain one night, and then visited one of my aunts further afield and took a hike up Hawk Mountain.

Socially, I’ve also been working on reaching out to try and maintain or cultivate friendships. Along with a sister-in-law, I started a tiny book club that meets every two months. We do trivia games for fun and I get to chat about books in a few different genres. Steve and I put in a patio (I think I mentioned this in another post because, wow, was that a lot of work and I didn’t even do half of it) and began inviting people over for a few cookouts before the nice weather disappeared. I’ve been working on saying “yes” more often as well. Said yes to a number of events I would normally shy away from: school events, work events, even library events I never would have gone to without making this resolution and coming leaps and bounds over the past few years. Even sucked up my fear enough to host a party for my son and his friends over Halloween. People are still scary, but I’ve learned a smile goes a long way.

Speaking of smiles, I have to mention health for a moment. I’m so thankful for finally discovering what’s been wrong with my face for the past year and a half. With my cracked tooth gone, the nerves in the right side of my face have healed and no longer throb and I’ve found a whole lot more energy that I didn’t even realize I’d been missing.

PERSONAL GOALS 2020

For our New Year’s Resolutions, the girl decided hers would be “to smile all year” and I liked it enough that I think I’m stealing it. So we’ve got:

1) Brave the cold and don’t limit my exercise to the warm weather. I can wear plenty of layers if need be, because this goal is more about not letting the winter derail good habits.

2) Keep saying yes, even when all I want to do is say no.

3) Remember to smile.

There you have it! Hope your 2020 is glorious and successful however you define success :)

Cessation of Civilization Published

December marks the publication of my 6th professional story and my first appearance in DreamForge Magazine :)

Cessation of Civilization features a student struggling over her final project, all the trials of every step in creating something as immense as an entire world.

This story originated from the idea of playing god in other people’s lives, getting to look down and push and prod them into action. Similar to how, as a writer, you get to design whole worlds, destroy character lives or make them worth living, worth reading about. Yet, it’s also about failure, success, and the beauty found in both of those things.

If you get a chance to read this one, I hope it makes you smile :)

This story isn’t available for free to read, however, here is a limited time only discount for a DreamForge subscription :) The stories are well-written and diverse and the gorgeous artwork that goes along with each one is something you truly don’t get with most magazines.

Shades of Amber published at BCS

Shades of Amber has gone live today in Beneath Ceaseless Skies 95th issue. It is a short story set in a world where vibrant color swirls upon the skin of every person and limited spectrums are looked down upon. This is my third professional publication :)

The other story in the issue is Margaret Ronald’s The Governess and the Lobster, so I’m in some very good company.