Tag Archives: Rannu competition

Writing Update: Aurora Nominee

Creative commons: photosteve101, flickr

I’ve been really busy for the past few weeks with some freelance editing, and I’ve had little time to post. On top of that, the Rannu competition is open until May 31. It is run by Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi and affords a $500 prize to the winner in each category of short fiction and poetry. I’ve been a runner-up and shortlisted in the past, and a judge but never a winner so I’ll try again. The entry fee is small $5, and it supports a Canadian fund so it’s one of the few paid contests I bother to enter. Anyone in the world can enter as along as the work is in English.

So, this gives me a week to write a story from scratch. While it’s taken me 15 years to finish a story, it’s also taken me a day. I have the plot worked out in my head and as soon as this post is done I’ll be working on it. Sometimes the plot in the head ends up with holes once it’s down on (virtual) paper. I’m hoping I have enough conflict and get the pacing right, because that is still my bane. A writing friend was up for a visit recently and she’s only been writing for about five years and says she’s sold almost everything she’s written. I was stunned. It tells me I still have a way to go. Of course she can write full time, while I squeeze it in around a full day but that’s not an excuse for excellent or poor writing.

One story to finish in a week, and the reprint collection is with a friend for editing. By mid June I hope to start formatting it and writing, awards, rejection, story process, short stories, fiction, speculative writinghave it up on Smashwords by July. My story in Bibliotheca Fantastica “The Book with No End” should come out sometime this summer and I still haven’t heard when Bull Spec will publish my poem. “The Book with No End” was written rather quickly and I tried a template because I often put too much lead-up into my stories (which, coincidentally, is very much how I talk). Even with the template the editor cut out the first two pages. I’m still learning after all these years. And unfortunately there has been a flurry or rejections. When they come all at once it’s ego flattening. But I persevere and continue to hope some stories will find a home.

writing, aurora award, Canadian awards, speculative fiction

Sandra Kasturi and Helen Marshall won the Aurora last year for best fan organization for the SpecFic Colloquium.

And…just to keep the ego floating, I’m a nominee in poetry again this year for the  Aurora Award. If you’re Canadian (even ex-pat) and care to spend $10 you too can vote for your favorite in Canadian speculative fiction. The list of nominees as well as registering to vote are all on the site. My poem, “A Good Catch” can be viewed at Polu Texni (Apr. 03, 2011 on the site).

I was also out of town this week, visiting an uncle. It turns out I can trace the Norwegian branch of the family (by way of Rovang Gaard and South Dakota) to the 1600s. I’m curious now about the Danish and Italian branches. But that took time, wandering through the memory lane of pictures. There is a book on the Rovang-Nelson descendants called Wilderness Home and I’ve borrowed it from my uncle to read up on my ancestors. I might get a story out of that as well.  Now I go to start the story for the Rannu competition.

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A Random Post About Random Events

writing, life, poetry, pain, poems, Rannu

Poised to begin. I’m always thinking about writing. Creative Commons: gnuckx, Flickr

I’ve had an incredibly expensive and busy week, with no time to write or rant on the blog (besides the Fluevog review). So I’m just going to ramble about what’s going on with me, a rarity when it gets to general day-to-day stuff. About a month ago I put my back out. This is unfortunately a semi regular event for me. In the realm of symptoms for chronic myofascial pain syndrome is tight muscles that have forgotten how to relax, therefore causing trigger point nodules of pain. I also have loose ligaments, so common movements can cause the muscles to pull my ribs out and the ligaments won’t hold them in place.  Yes, it is painful and makes it difficult to sleep, breathe or move at times.

That took a couple of weeks to settle down and I stopped working out for that time. Then I was lazy and busy and I missed another two weeks. Now I’m back to working out, realizing I miss bellydancing (haven’t taught in about four months) and have to get more dancing in. It is the easiest and most fun type of exercise for me.

I’m dealing with ribs still doing their own thing, a couple of rush editing projects and attempts to write a story before the end of the month for the Rannu competition. Of course, at this point, it’s all in my head and not down on paper. I have three weeks to kickstart myself. The reprint collection is ready to be checked over by a friend and then I’ll try formatting it for Smashwords first.

pain, myofascial pain, muscles, trigger points, back issues, dislocated ribs, health

These spots are just some of the areas where myofascial pain can set in, sometimes all at once. Creative commons: from docakilah.com

Besides the dumb rib issue, I’ve had to get a crown on a cracked tooth, which is becoming more complicated, and that’s not a cheap venture. And…it looks like one of my not very old, yet still sucky, tires may have to be replaced from a flat a few weeks back. The tire was okay but doesn’t seem completely right. I’ve started a new series of poems, which I began in March, where I wrote two new stories, rewrote two others and started the poems. The series will have thirteen in all, and be about witches, but with a Canadian twist. Two are done, two more being worked on. No idea how long it will take to finish this series but I’ll start sending out some of the individual poems. And I’ll get something done for the Rannu competition. I work better to deadlines so it’s always good to grab one.

Energy is always an issue. With spring finally seeming to have hit Vancouver–we actually had a warm enough weekend to go without jackets–I’m waking up a bit earlier and easier. I’m battling back anemia  and sometimes the myofascial pain adds its on dimension of fatigue. And sometimes I don’t manage my time well. But I have lots to do, including repainting and reorganizing my den and writing writing writing. Spring cleaning is sometimes an ongoing thing, and writing is a constant even if it happens in fits and starts.

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Editing

Here at the Chi hub (Chizine.com and ChiZine Publications…that’s online magazine vs paper books) I’m juggling my several hats, and getting ready for a short sojourn into the US. First, we’re accepting poetry again at Chizine as well as fiction, so get on it. I’ve just read two poems with provisional acceptances. What does that mean? It means we want a few changes but overall have accepted the poem. And Steve Vernon and I have  made our picks for the poetry winners of the Rannu competition. The winners will be announced next month (they still have the fiction winners to sort out).

Whats this got to do with editing?

Taking off my plumed poetry editor hat and donning my slush editor fedora for ChiZine publications, I’m almost through my part of the slush backlog. Only one manuscript left in that pile. But…I have about three full manuscripts to read where I asked for revisions and to see the whole thing. A couple more might come in. What I find fascinating is that when I send out a positive response–saying these things need fixing. Once you’ve done so, send me the full manuscript–I often never hear back from the person. You would think… Hell, I would think because I am a writer too, that if I had a reply from a publisher I would definitely jump on the wagon…unless of course I have so many publishers knocking at my door. That’s a rare occurrence. But even if some other publisher is looking at the manuscript I’d be sending a polite thank you to the publisher. You never want to burn possible bridges of crossing for the future.

Still, there are some fascinating ideas swirling around out there in people’s minds. My travels to the US are going to be pleasure. I’ll have to do some editing for the first part because I am getting snowed under. But I’m also on my way to the World Horror Convention in Austin, Texas next week. It’s going to be a great time with parties thrown by Chizine on Friday night and Cutting Block Press on Saturday. In personal editing, I’ve signed up for a pitch session where first there will be a workshop on how to pitch one’s book and then a one-on-one with an editor or agent to pitch. I’m a bit nervous about that as I’ve never pitched before but what have I got to lose. The worst they can say is no.

Besides sitting on a vampire panel Saturday morning I will also be interviewing Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi, owners of Chizine Publications and editor guests of honor at the convention. It’s an hour interview and I’m taking questions from the virtual audience to add to the list, so if you want to ask something of dark fiction and poetry writers, small press entrepreneurs and dark fiction editors, then post your comments here. I’ll be publishing the interview afterward, somewhere, maybe even here.

So, you’re possibly wondering, what does the above picture have to do with editing besides that I just wanted to stick a picture in here? Well, I am an editor and I am edited. I’m between a rock and a hard place. Because I wear the hat of a writer as well I see the writing world from two sides. Do I ever worry that someone I rejected, who also might be an editor, might reject me in revenge? No. We’re professionals and it’s the name of the game. I have a friend who is editor of one of the “Big Three” SF mags (which really is the big five) and he’s faithfully rejected me for years. It’s the way the world works. Likewise I don’t expect a writer to get all bitter and angry when I reject them. It happens to us all and yes, someone else might buy the piece. We’re human after all, with our own experiences, training and predilections.

It’s a business and that means the shopper and the contractor have choices. If more people actually looked at writing and publishing this way we’d have less bitter writers. Sorry I didn’t buy your lawn chair. I like this one better. I like that brand of makeup over this one. I like my produce from the mom and pop shop, not from Safeway. Someone else will like otherwise.

The blog entries could be sporadic this next week but I hope to blog about the con while I’m there. See you on the writing side.

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Writing: March Update

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Want to read one of my poems, besides the one listed here? Well you’ll be able to in a month or so at Polu Texni. http://www.polutexni.com/ “A Good Catch” about a mermaid gone awry will be published in this online magazine. The poem was an honorable mention in the Rannu competition (two honorable mentions are given and equivalent of second place).

I’ve also just sold a story “Tasty Morsels” to Polluto #8, a British magazine. http://www.polluto.com/ I think it will be out in late spring but I’m not sure yet.

As well, “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” published in Horror Library Vol. IV has made Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year. Of course having a story selected for the anthology would have even been better but hey, it’s nice to be on that list again.

In other news I’m still judging the poems in the Rannu competition. I’ve done my second read-through and narrowed my list down. Now I’ll have to compare to the other judge’s and then we have to pick a winner and two honorable mentions. That should be done in the next month.

I’ve also finally finished my steampunk/blimp story and have it going through a few readers to catch those technical glitches. I’ve been up in a hot air balloon (the smallest possible airship) once but it was many years ago and the blimp (the next size up) in the 1800s has some different mechanisms that took getting my brain around it. It’s good to have someone who’s an ex-air force pilot and fan of airships look over it. I’ll work on the rewrite and hope to send that out in the next month.

Which means, my plate is cleared to work on another story. But I’ve also made a commitment to finish the languishing novel this year so it’s moving up the list. And slush, I still have slush to catch up on and gotta get going on that one. Maybe I’ll have plowed through enough slush before going to the World Horror Con in Austin at the end of April so that my conscience will be free. The pen never goes dry.

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The End is Only Just Beginning

I haven’t written in the last week, not so much because I was on holidays and gorging myself as I was busy. In fact, I didn’t gorge myself except for some wine imbibition. Otherwise, I was finishing up the rewrite of my novel The Fool’s Game. It’s languished for a long time and I always meant to rewrite it…again.

Then I read about the Terry Pratchett prize by the famous humor fantasy author in England. The contest was free to enter and it was for a manuscript that takes place on Earth in some way. My novel fit the bill and I’m of a Commonwealth country, one of the rules for entering. The prize is a publishing contract and 20,000 pounds. That would be lovely to get.

I used the deadline, today, to work on the novel over the past few months, getting down to the wire and the nitty gritty today. I had to rewrite and shorten the synopsis as well and that was a good thing. I also added nine thousand words to the novel, changed a few things and gave more description. Will I win? That would be nice but there could be hundreds, even thousands of entries. I’m a competent writer or understands the techniques of writing. That will give me a better chance than probably half of the entries, but then it will depend on the uniqueness of the story and how well it’s told. I won’t know until March so no point worrying about it now. It’s winging its way across the ether to the other side of the pond.

Other writing news includes that the Evolve anthology http://www.vampires-evolve.com/with my well-received story “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” is number five on the Barnes and Noble list of the top vampire books of the year. That’s great news. http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Explorations-The-BN-SciFi-and/The-Best-Vampire-Releases-of-2010/ba-p/767920

The Horror Library Vol. 4 story has not been receiving any reviews yet. I’ve only found two and “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” isn’t even mentioned which is disappointing. I’ve always said I’d prefer a bad review than no review so not being noticed sucks. The editors also had great hopes for this disturbing story, but the book hasn’t been out long so there is still hope for it. And the story did get good comments when I read it at Orycon. Besides those two stories, “A Taste For Treasure” also came out this year in Alison’s Wonderland, as well as two poems, “Of the Corn” in Witches & Pagans #21, and “Bones of the Earth” in the summer edition of Country Connection magazine. Not a bad year and “Lover’s Triangle” should have been out by December but should be out soon in New Vampire Tales.

That wraps up the writing year, but we’re only as good as our last written story. I will now have to catch up on some slush reading for ChiZine Publications, getting ready to judge poetry for the Rannu competition which closes as the end of January I believe, and then of course write other stories. I can now write the steampunk story placed just before the US Civil War and which is already plotted out. I just didn’t have time.

Then I have another dark story to write about skin and power, and there is a backburnered sci-tech story waiting to be pushed along. And now that I’ve rewritten that novel it’s time to get going on the other novel which is under construction. I hope this coming year will be even more stellar for writing.

And to all of you who read my blog, may you have a fantastic year, achieve your goals and have fun and love. Happy New Year to all.

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Writing: Rannu Competition and Update

I’m working away on several things and of course we’ve hit the busy social season, but I’m hoping to get my cyber-feypunk novel rewritten before the end of the year. Which means my steampunk story, all but laid out in my mind, is on hold until this is out of the way.

I’m still reading slush for CZP but it’s slowed down with all the other stuff. I still have about ten submissions to get through and have requested the full manuscript from one person. I’ve also forwarded about three on to Sandra and Brett. There are several readers for the manuscripts so it’s hard to say how many submissions we have at once or how many are forwarded, unless you’re Sandra.

And today it’s been confirmed that Steve Vernon and I will be judges for the poetry end of the Rannu competition. We are both horror/dark fiction writers, in one of our guises and live on opposite coasts. We are of course not the only writers in Canada of that ilk. And the poems entered do not need to be dark fiction/horror; they just have to be speculative. Steve won last year’s poetry competition and I was one of two runners up.

Barbara Gordon and Francine Lewis will be the judges for the prose competition.Barbara won last year’s competition and Francine was one of two runners up in both categories. The competition gives a $500 first prize in each category, open to anyone in any country and the deadline is January 15, 2011. Full information and the past two years’ winners can be seen here: http://rannu.webs.com/ The award was created by Sandra Kasturi of Chizine.

I’ve not been a judge before; just a writer, competitor, copyeditor, editor so this will be fun and something new. I have no idea how many poems we’ll have to judge but I suspect we’ll be busy. Editing poetry is quite a different pony from editing prose. Whereas you can start with the basics of grammar for prose, it doesn’t necessarily hold true for a poem that can have a different style from the next one. Grammar doesn’t work the same way if at all. But some hints on how to write good poems is to stay away from cliche images and sayings. Things like sunsets, moons and suns have been described so many ways that making them unique becomes harder. Also these days rhyming poems aren’t really in fashion. I wouldn’t dismiss a poem for it rhyming, but there are few people who can do it really well. It better not be trite and simplistic. Google Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” for an example of simplistic and bad.

If a poem is using specific imagery, then that image/simile should follow through or be completed, not left hanging to go on to another image. Sandra’s amusing and acerbic guidelines for Chizine can apply to any poem. I’m copying the relevant parts here:

  1. Note on Goth poems. BEFORE YOU SUBMIT, go to the Goth-o-Matic Poetry Generator and create a poem:
    http://www.deadlounge.com/poetry/poems.html
    If the poem you want to send me even remotely resembles the one you just created with the Generator, DO NOT submit your own poem.
  2. Unless you have had poems published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly or a similar calibre of magazine, DO NOT SUBMIT:
    1. formal verse of any kind whatsoever
    2. vampire poetry
    3. any poem with the word “blood” in it
    4. any poem with the word “womb” in it
    5. anything remotely related to J.R.R. Tolkien
    6. any werewolf poem. We know you think your werewolf poems are good. We don’t. We’re tired of the howling and the biting. You give us mange.
    7. any poem entitled “Underworld.” The movies weren’t THAT awesome. Also, it’s the name of the knicker factory on Coronation Street, so it elicits immediate snickers from the editors.

A poem should say something new, in a unique way. It shouldn’t be a story. That’s what prose is for. A poem should be succinct with strong imagery, atmosphere or feeling. It shouldn’t all be angst or broken hearts. God forbid that’s what we get. Judges are people so there will be things we prefer or don’t prefer but I’m pretty good in separating my personal opinion from judging something on the strength of execution and style. If I wasn’t judging I’d be entering again. We’ll be blind judging so there is no chance of favoritism.

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