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Archive for June, 2016

After a slew of acceptances, I’ve gotten 3 rejection letters lately. All of them were modified with “good, but not for us,” or some similar comment. But “close” doesn’t make much of a difference to a writer. We still see the word, NO, in blinking letters.

Taking off my writer’s hat, and putting on my editor’s hat, I know if an editor takes the time to add any comment to a form rejection, you made an impression. So it really is good news when there’s a positive comment added to the “not for us.” And, believe it or not, editors do feel bad when they say “No” to a good story, new writer, friendly writing acquaintance, etc. We’re trying to publish the best book or magazine we can, and honestly,  we just can’t fit all the good stuff in.

With another take on rejection from both side of the editorial desk, is On Sending and Receiving Rejections from the Liminal Stories Magazine blog.

So, like me, when you receive a rejection, take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders, and find another market for the rejected story. Send it off again. Then, start writing the next story. Persistence really is the key to success!

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One lesson I’ve learned through years of having books published by Indie presses is: It’s easier to create a book than to get into the hands of readers.

Wait, you say, doesn’t it take years to write a book? Often it does take years.

Doesn’t it take years to find a publisher (Indie or bigger) interested in publishing your book? Indeed, if usually does.

Once the book is accepted, aren’t there months if not years before the book actually hits the bookshelves? Yes, that’s true.

But the problem remains, once you’ve written a book, found a publisher, and gone through the process – you need to get word out about your book and help potentially interested readers discover it.

So what’s the solution? Good promotion and a little luck. And by good promotion, I don’t mean constantly Facebooking every acquaintance you’ve ever met with “buy my book” notes!

Some great tips can be found in the article How To Promote Your Science Fiction Book,  found on BookBaby Blog.

If you’ve got other tips, please feel free to share them.

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In an attempt to finish many incomplete projects, I’ve set monthly goals for myself. So, how am I doing on the April and May 2016 goals I set forth on April 1st?

What’s done?

Murder_Cover_CS_front1-Complete my science fiction novelette (such a charming word!) and get it into the hands of my publisher. Done! Murder on Marawa Prime was published by Pole to Pole Publishing in May 2016. If you like science fiction murder mysteries – this one is for you.

2-Finish crocheting an afghan for my granddaughter. Done! And given to her. (pastel colors)

3-Revise and add another story and poem to my fantasy story collection, The Greener Forest, so it can be re-released with a new cover, etc. Done! Now, all that’s left to be done are to get some cover comments from fellow fantasy writers.

4-Finish at least 2 short stories and submit them to publishers. Done! I await the editors’ responses.

5-Finish crocheting an afghan for youngest grandson. Done! (greens, blues, and black) Plus, I finished crocheting an afghan for my oldest grandson, too. (reds, blues, and black) Both were given to the boys earlier in June.

6-Went on a 2 week RV trip to see a niece and her husband in Indiana; visit Lincoln country in Illinois; see Mark Twain sites in Hannibal, Missouri; visit Lewis & Clark sites in St. Louis, Missouri; visit Graceland in Tennessee; visit Shiloh Battlefield in Tenn.; see Ruby Falls & Cave and Look Out Mountain in Tenn.; visit Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia; visit godmother in Greenville, South Carolina; visit uncle in Sparta, North Carolina, see sister and brother-in-law in Staunton, Virginia; and get back to Maryland in one piece. Done!

So what’s NOT done?

1- I haven’t gotten all the letters home from World War II from a great-uncle typed, or begun research for this nonfiction book.

2- I’m still polishing one story for a publisher, and working hard on another for a science fiction anthology. I’m hoping they’ll both make it to the Table of Contents.

3- The embroidered samplers still await their borders and framing – though I have gotten out the fabric to finish the projects.

4- The black and white drawings await their scanning. Why is this not done? I want to make a few changes in each drawing.

Where do I go from here? Set goals for June and July, of course!

By the end of June, I will:

1- send in a final version of a story I’ve been working on since last June!

2- send in the first draft of a science fiction story to an anthology.

3- type at least 10 more letters from World War II.

4- add borders to and frame one of the samplers.

5- put a border and backing on a vintage redwork quilt top which has suddenly become mine. (More on this unfinished project later).

By the end of July, I will:

1- send a final version of the science fiction story to the anthology.

2- begin reading books to prepare to submit to another anthology.

3- type 10 more letters from WW II.

4- revise my science fiction and fantasy collection, Owl Light, in preparation for re-release.

How about you? Are you trying to finish up unfinished projects, too? Any tips for me?

Now, back to work on an unfinished story! – Vonnie

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]Thanks to author Peter Schranz for stopping by and sharing an interesting essay on science fiction writer, Mark Twain! Having visited Twain’s boyhood home this summer, I wonder what Samuel Clemens would think of it?

For those who haven’t ordered their copy of Hides the Dark Tower containing Peter’s story, “Tower of the Sea Witch,” here’s the link. Now, back to the essay. Enjoy!

An Anticipation of Twain’s by Peter Schranz

‘It’s not news that science fiction writers are good at making uncanny predictions about future technological advancements: Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon developed Apollo 11, Wells’ 1903 story The Land Ironclads triggered World War I, and Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein gave birth to the misunderstood English corpses responsible for the gothic rock music of the early 1980s. What a slice of pie it would be if I could justify the argument that I belong on the list because of ‘Tower of the Sea Witch,’ my contribution to Hides the Dark Tower, but unfortunately that story is set before technological advancement was even invented.

I would say that the list, long as it is, has snubbed Mark Twain, one of my country’s greatest science fiction writers. You might not think he’s a science fiction writer, but I intend in this paper to pry that false notion right out of your brain forever.

A French translation of part of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” appeared in the Revue Des Deux Mondes of July 15, 1872. Three years later, Twain discovered the article, took exception to its note that his story wasn’t that funny, and re-translated it back into English to reveal that the French translation was a disjointed shadow of the original, mainly via his feigned and smart-alecky ignorance that French and English syntax and grammar significantly differ.

While the idea of machine translation dates back many centuries, the first actual machine to translate wasn’t available until about fifty years ago. This means that Twain predicted the translation method made famous by machine translators (‘letter-not-spirit method’) by a good nine decades.

I’ve included below a small section of the story in all three versions, or, as Twain himself wrote, “in English, then in French, then clawed back into a civilized language once more by patient, unremunerated toil.”

‘Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor–Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog–and sing out, ‘Flies, Dan’l, flies!’ and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted.’

‘Tenez, je l’ai vu poser Daniel Webster la sur se plancher,–Daniel Webster etait le nom de la grenouille,–et lui chanter: Des mouches! Daniel, des mouches!–En un clin d’oeil, Daniel avait bondi et saisi une mouche ici sur le comptoir, puis saute de nouveau par terre, ou il restait vraiment a se gratter la tete avec sa patte de derriere, comme s’il n’avait pas eu la moindre idee de sa superiorite. Jamais vous n’avez grenouille vu de aussi modeste, aussi naturelle, douee comme elle l’etait!’

‘Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank–Daniel Webster was the name of the frog–and to him sing, “Some flies, Daniel, some flies”– in a flash of the eye Daniel had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped anew at the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with his behind foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority. Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was.’

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last fifteen years of your precious life doing nothing but feeding a machine translator a perfectly blameless piece of English, instructing it to translate it into another language, and instructing it once more to translate its own translation back into what it swears on a stack of bibles is English. If you haven’t done so, perhaps you will after reading the following brief examples, created using a well-known machine translation service whose name I am too polite to reveal:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

O Roméo, Roméo ! C’est pourquoi es-tu Roméo?

O Romeo, Romeo! This is why are you Romeo?

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Loin dans l’ombre peering, je me tins longtemps plein d’étonnement, de crainte,

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood full of astonishment, fear,

In fairness to the translation in the Revue Des Deux Mondes, its French (I’m so magnanimous as to presume) is without fault, a feat, considering Twain’s ample colloquialisms (which I guess is the joke), whereas the French in Shakespeare’s and Poe’s machine translations looks about as bad as the re-English.

But this eerily similar, slavish adherence to the “from” language’s syntax (cf. 1875’s “Never you not have seen frog as modest” and 2015’s “This is why are you Romeo?”) and the refusal to translate certain words (cf. “Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank” and “Loin dans l’ombre peering”) is what demands that I forward Mark Twain for consideration as a member of the technology-anticipators’ club. The mistakes he made in his translation and those that modern machine translators make are so similar that I can only assume Twain’s capacity for prediction was that of a science-fictionist’s.

Not even Douglas Adams’s Babel fish gives bad translations, but if you, reader, are beginning to suspect that my argument is spurious, you may retort that the Babel fish is not a machine, but a leech-like creature. Firstly, to this retort, I would suggest that yours is one of those irrelevant distinctions favored by students of sophistry, and secondly, I would cross my arms and pout in the corner.’

And here’s where you can find Peter’s books, Astonishing Tales of the Sea and It Spits You Out & 12 More Stories to Rub Your Chin To.

Thanks again to Peter Schrantz for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, quotes, blogs from me, and more. Have a fantastical day! – Vonnie

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Though I posted earlier today, I must wish my readers a Happy International Fairy Day!

The Greener Forest 300 dpi coverIn celebration of all things Faerie (including fairies, goblins, spriggans, giants, and such), I’m busy getting, The Greener Forest, my collection of short stories in which the world of Faerie spills into our mundane world, ready for re-release. So if you want the original version with my illustrations on the cover and inside the book, order your copy as soon as possible.

I’m sharing the old cover and a buy link – if you’re interested in purchasing the original version.

So what will change about The Greener Forest?

First, a new publisher, Pole to Pole Publishing, and new ISBN, etc.

Cover-Electronic-GreenerForestSecond, the illustrations will be removed (by the way, ebook versions have not had illustrations since TGR was first published).

Third,  an extra story, “Balming the Thorn,” originally published in the anthology, Magical, and reprinted in FrostFire World May 2016, will now be included in the book.

Fourth, an extra poem, “Before the Battle,” originally published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, will now be included in the book.

Fifth, The Greener Forest will have a new cover with cover comments on the front and back. I’ve included a copy of the new cover for your enjoyment.

Want to know a little more about International Fairy Day? Here’s a link. Have a most magical June 24th!

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I’ve been a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series of books since they were first published. I think I fell in love with the idea of a dragon who was both apart from a character and a part of the character. I even had compassion for the poor watch-beast who tried to protect Lessa in the first Pern book.

Perhaps it’s because I was born in the Year of the Dragon (I’ll leave you to figure out which Year of the Dragon that is), but those magical reptiles have always held a special place in my heart. I’ve included a dragon in a few short stories, most notably in “Weathermaker,” included in my book The Greener Forest (soon to be updated with an additional story and poem included and released from Pole to Pole Publishing).

Plus, a dragon plays an important role in my novel, The Enchanted Skean – though Fafnir is a wee dragon in this first book of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir. For fans of the The Enchanted Skean, look for a novelette length tie-in book from Pole to Pole Publishing by year’s end.

Now, back to Pern! I loved the fantasy vibe of the series, even though it was officially science fiction. These books tread that delightful ground between genres where I often like the stories I read (and write) to exist.

So hoorah! Though Anne McCaffrey is no longer with us, her marvelous dragon-filled world can still bring joy to fans new and old. As for me- I can’t wait to see what movie technology and good live-action can do for The Dragon Riders of Pern. Here’s the link to the article.

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As an add-on to yesterday’s post, here’s the link to a bit of the Balticon interview with George RR Martin. A very humble, down-to-earth guy – even if he wanted to be a spaceman! Enjoy! George RR Martin at Balticon50.

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Balticon 2016, also known as Balticon50, has come and gone. Per usual, it was a delightfully busy time for me.

I had an opportunity to chat with author friends, meet fans of my writing and art, read from my books, sign books, participate on panels, and present a writing workshop. In addition, I attended eSpec Book’s fabulous publication party, Gail Z. Martin’s publication party (she’s a wonderful reader – I so enjoyed listening to her fiction), an anthology meeting, and the SFWA meeting.

As a George RR Martin fan, I was happy to have a book signed by the brilliant author of Game of Thrones. (Yes, I’m quite taken with his use of language in the book series and eagerly await the next book).

Plus, I had the chance to meet and learn more about some of my fellow members of Broad Universe (women who write science fiction, fantasy, and horror).

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. Many thanks to Baltimore Science Fiction Society for inviting me to participate. I hope you’ll want me back in 2017.

Now, I’m back to writing and revising. A new story, new book, and/or new painting is always on my to-do list.

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