Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Creative People Say No?

I was reading this article by Business Insider here that suggests that successful creative people all share the ability/trait to say "no."  In other words, they don't allow for others to monopolize their time.  It was interesting because the thought never occurred to me yet saying "no" is such a huge part of how I operate from day to day if I want to get some writing done.

I made the decision a few years back that I wanted to take my writing seriously.  I know this sounds kind of obvious.  I mean, what writer doesn't take her writing seriously?  But I feel there a distinct difference between aspiring to be a writer and seriously writing.  The main difference being a dogged determination to put the butt in the chair and words to paper on a regular basis come hell or high water.

The moment I took writing that seriously is when I started having to say no.  A writer can aspire all she wants but if words are going to go on that page then time has to be made for the craft.  Thirty minutes here.... ten minutes there... it all adds up.  Writing has to become a priority or it doesn't happen. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review of "Argentina," a single story from a collection by Guy J. Jackson



Summary:
In this collection of rare, hard-to-find, and often too-short short "stories", Guy J. Jackson wields his not particularly helpful but still relatively charming (at least compared to being chased) worldview in order to pretty much study and correct all of humanity's foibles, or at least the ones that need correcting by the end of this year. Also, if you read these "stories" at the rate of one per day, you'll feel Zen for however many days that there are "stories", or so claimed Roundfire Books' late editorial assistant, Nils Samuels Chastain, even though it wasn't his place to decide that.


Review:
One word came to mind as I read "Argentina": rambling.  The entire story consists of a protagonist lamenting over the general ban the world has placed on smoking with a small side order of remorse about his misspent twenties.

Too be fair, I'm not a huge fan of the rambling style.  I know it works for a lot of readers, just not for me.  But it felt especially out of place in so short a story.  "Argentina" is less than 1,000 words.  When working with fiction that short every word needs to count.  There's no room for rambling.

I could see how a piece like this might be the kind of story that works better as part of a collection.  On its own it seemed to lack direction.

2.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this collection on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pacing and Consistency

At the beginning of this year my life got busier.  It's all good things, nothing bad.  And the extra busyness is temporary (I hope).  But, needless to say, it has put a cramp in my writing output.

This cramp led to some frustrations.  When I got back from my Christmas break I just couldn't get back in my groove.  It seemed like something was always getting in the way of cranking out my 850 words (daily goal in 2014).

I was forced to take a step back.  I love writing but it's not my primary source of income.  And I realized that the frustration I felt was sucking all the enjoyment I gleaned from the process.

It wasn't worth it!

So I dropped the rigorous schedule I had built up for myself last year.  That schedule worked for 2014, not 2015.  I contented myself with just writing every day, word count be damned.  I'm still making steady progress just maybe not as much as I used to.  And I'm ok with that for right now.  The joy returned when I sit down to write so I believe the decision was a good one.

Consistency is key when it comes to writing.  I realized that this will probably not be the last readjustment I'll have to make.  Life gets in the way but that doesn't mean the writing has to stop.  Writing is a lifestyle.  You make it work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Advice from Siblings – A Review

Jennifer Vandenberg’s Advice from Siblings is light but not simple, textured but not harsh, and neither is it predictably literal. However, it is refreshingly infused with selfishness and a moral ambiguity that belies the honest humor inherent in this tale of emotional conundrums. Advice is a charming little gem that played out perfectly with SFWG’s Evil Christmas Holiday Flash Fiction Contest, taking first place as the unanimous favorite.

At its heart, the story illustrates that evil, although most often associated with horror and overt acts of malevolence, is a slippery notion at best, often born of good intentions, but maligned by manipulation and baseless fear. And for Jon, our protagonist, Christmas Eve is just another day of dealing with his controlling girlfriend and her ever changing list of acceptable behavior. Jennifer shows us that evil can wear many masks and go by many names, even ones masquerading under the guise of altruism.

Flash fiction, by its very nature, cuts to the chase, omitting the breadth in favor of depth. Jennifer Vandenberg reaffirms in Advice from Siblings that the richness of the tale need not depend upon anything as pedestrian as word count.

“Advice from Siblings” was the first place story in SFWG’s 2014 Flash Fiction Contest.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

SFWG 2014 Flash Fiction Contest RESULTS

We would like to thank everyone that took the time to submit to our "Evil Christmas" flash fiction contest. We were simultaneously scared and amused by all the creativity.

And now for the results!

First Prize goes to Jennifer Vandenberg for her story, "Advice from Siblings."

Second Prize goes to Al Stevens for his story, "Santas on Patrol."

Third Prize goes to Robin Leigh Morgan for her story, "A Haunted House at Christmas."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

$100 a Month Writing Short Stories

As this new year begins, I pulled up Quickbooks to look at my sales numbers (because I get an odd satisfaction from looking at numbers).  At the conclusion of 2014 I completed my second year in a row where I averaged a little over $100 a month over the course of the year.

As a side note for future record's sake, I was on course to make $150 a month for the first half of the year.  And then Amazon decided to release it's Kindle Unlimited program.  In a nutshell: it messed up the selling algorithms for indie publishers everywhere.  But things are starting to stabilize once more.

Even with this temporary setback, the fact that I was able to more or less maintain my monthly average for another entire year proved that slow 'n steady is really the key in this business.  Continually write, continually publish.  The more books you have in your catalog, the higher the likelihood that someone will find your work.

It also solidified in my mind that I can make money from short form fiction.  Maybe not six figures.  But enough to pay all the bills eventually. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review of "Children of the Artificial Womb," short story by Edward Lange



Summary:  
Hector, a member of the Plasmid street gang and product of the artificial womb, is not doing well. His girlfriend is pregnant, his best friend is a murderous, technological genius and his gang boss is a violent bully. But when a once in a lifetime opportunity comes his way, Hector will have to choose between safety and freedom, in the dangerous world of gang warfare.
 
This story can also be found in the short fiction collection, Nightmares and Premonitions.

Review:
I've reviewed Lange's work before and I have to start out by saying how impressed I was by his progress as a writer.  This story--compared to the one I read before--is sleeker, more engaging and, most importantly, has characters that felt real.  I was immediately drawn into the turf wars and the emotional struggle behind the character's actions.

The plot itself is interesting.  It feels very vintage scifi in that it presents a questionable concept (the artificial womb) and explores the ramifications of such technology development.  Does the artificial womb really solve the abortion debate?

I felt this concept was a little too interesting.  Short stories always walk a fine line between presenting too much and too little information.  In this story's case, too much was given.  A very rich world was presented but much of its potential was left sadly unexplored.  This particular story could have easily gone on into novella-length or longer.

Overall, however, it's an engaging read.  Well worth picking up if you're in the mood for some dystopian scifi.

Review by Alain Gomez
3.5/5 stars

Buy this story on Amazon.