Uh…..Hi…wow…I…um…I didn’t see you standing there.
“Why am I hiding behind this chair?”
Don’t be silly…I wasn’t hiding, I…um….lost a contact lens. That’s right. And even if I was hiding, it wasn’t because I was avoiding you. I mean, why would I want to avoid you just because I haven’t written anything new in over four months?
Yeah, I know I promised a post a week. I know there’s an implied contract (or is it inferred, always get those two mixed up)…anyway, there’s some sort of spiritual contract between a blogger and a reader, and I’ve completely abandoned that contract. And I’m sorry, but I’ve been really busy of late.
Wait…don’t walk away. You’ve heard that before, but it’s true this time. I didn’t waste all my time watching bad television and surfing the net. OK, I spent a lot of time doing that, but not ALL my time. And I have done some writing related stuff since we last spoke. Like what, you ask?
Well, I joined Jonathan Maberry’s writing seminar. It’s being led by Marie Lamba , Dennis Tafoya, and Jonathan makes an occasional guest appearance, usually followed by applause and raucous cheers from the viewing audience, like when Fonzie would show up on Laverne and Shirley. The course wasn’t cheap, I admit, but I’ve already gotten some great feedback from Dennis and Marie; not to mention an incredible two hour Skype conversation with Jonathan who gave me some ideas for this blog, for Jonesing, and just life in general. If this thing gets me off my butt and helps me turn Jonesing into a novel, it will be worth it. Thus far it’s done so with limited success, but we’ve got several months to go so we’ll see.
I submitted “House Sitting” to a cool looking anthology for Grey Matter Press. Once again, it was shortlisted; and, once again, it was ultimately passed over but I got some good feedback. I did my traditional day of mourning, then submitted it to a neat magazine called Shock Totem.
And that turned out to be something friggin’, fabulously fortuitous. Not because Shock Totem accepted the story (that decision remains outstanding, but keeping fingers crossed), but because I learned about the Shock Totem Flash Fiction contest, and that was an eye opener on many levels.
This was the first such contest I ever entered. The prompt (Hobo Plague Suit) inspired me to write Inheritance, my first original piece in almost a year. Inheritance is a futuristic creep show about a society that casts out the unwanted into the wilderness, and the fallout of their cruelty. It quickly became one of my favorites, and while only placing 7th (out of about 40), most of the readers responded very positively and I did manage 2 – second and 2 – third place votes.
What it also did was give me some needed perspective. There were forty stories entered for this contest, and most of them were very good. I felt mine was very good – perhaps worthy of consideration, but as many as five others were no-holds-barred great. Creative, well-written, descriptive. The top three winners, including Michael Wehunt for the trippy “Everything that can’t Heal Itself” and Kurt Fawver for the darkly humorous “A Plague of the Most Beautiful Finery” earned their spots, third place winner “Birdman” by L. Pittenger, (which got my first place vote) might be my favorite piece of short, dark fiction I’ve read in years. It literally kept me up at night.
The point I’m trying to make is, there’s a lot of good stuff out there. If playing for a prize-to-be-revealed-later-chance-to-be-in-a-future-issue flash fiction contest draws 35 high quality pieces, can you imagine what a five-cent a word submission is drawing? I’m starting to think that the constant short-listing of “House Sitting” and “Change” is a minor accomplishment of itself and maybe those folks who keep telling me they will eventually catch hold are onto something.
Along with that perspective, some serendipity. Right after the contest ended, as I was considering what I should do with my new story, Grey Matter Publishing announced a new anthology looking for stories set in the future. I decided that if the same publisher whose “close but no cigar” rejection of House Sitting ended up sending me to the magazine that inspired Inheritance was now looking for stories exactly like Inheritance …it couldn’t be a coincidence….did I lose you there? Yeah, me too….anyway, bottom line: I’m expanding Inheritance from Flash Fiction (1000 words) to short story (3000+ words) and submitting it to Grey Matter. Just need to get on the stick and get it done before May!
Finally, there’s this little thing called the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. You may recall I joined the PWC board not long after I re-started this blog. Well later last year, I volunteered to become the new registrar and build their new registration site. That ate up huge swatches of time through this first quarter, but I’m happy to say the site looks great and completely automates things like contest submissions, dinner selections, and even things like book requests for workshop presenters. I’ve gotten scads of glowing reviews, and as I’ve explained many times, that’s absolute crack for an attention whore such as myself. I’m already looking ahead to next year where I can fine-tune some of the clunkier aspects…
But all that will come after I write my blog posts, and submit stories, and expand my novel, I promise all those things. You know, good reader, that you’re the most important thing in my life, and from this point forward, I promise that I’ll never stay away so long ever again.