Tag Archives: novella

Queen Cover

So, I’ve wanted a cover for my novella ever since I started putting it up to read on Wattpad last September, but finances are super tight and I wasn’t sure that would be possible.  Ideally, I wanted an illustration for my cover rather than stock art, but illustrated covers are by far the most expensive and my max budget for a cover at this point is $100.  So when I saw that Natasha Alterici had posted on Twitter that her freelance gigs had fallen through and she needed quick cash for her rent, I leaped at the chance to make one of my dreams come true.  And boy, am I ever glad I did.  Behold the awesome:

I have also been intrigued by Amanda C. Davis’ recent forays into designing covers for DIY practice.  She’s been tackling all kinds of covers, and I previously let her know that I was interested in her giving my novella a shot.  Am so glad I did that, too, because my laptop has been giving me all kinds of troubles, and there’d be no way I could do the cover design myself right now.  As soon as Natasha got back to me on the final cover, I sent it Amanda’s way.  Amanda posted her design/learning process here.

And here it is in all its gorgeousness:


Art by Natasha Alterici.

Design by Amanda C. Davis.

Queen of the Eight Banners

For long-time followers of the blog, you’ll know that I spent most of my early years here writing a novella entitled Queen of the Eight Banners.  I’ve done various posts about it, recording what drafting it has been like and what I’ve learned from the process of writing while battling the first years of my chronic illness.

Well, I set it aside in April of this year, not knowing what to do with it.  I’d pretty much resigned to just keeping it on my hard-drive, but I was also unable to fully “trunk” it in my mind.

Well, since September of this year, I’ve figured out something to do with it.

The experiment continues.

ETA: This post was auto-posted at the beginning of the month, but life has been so rough and health so bad I took it down until I was certain I could take Queen off hiatus.

2014 Submission Stats

So, I started off the year submitting one novella, one short story translation, and one short story.  For reasons I’ll explain later, I’m going to stop submitting here for the year, but I thought I’d take a peek at submission stats before I close up shop.

It looks like I subbed these 3 works a total of 8 times and received 4 personalized rejections, 3 form rejections, and 1 acceptance.  Not too shabby?

Queen 3.0

Continuing to write up a draft log until Queen is either accepted for publication or else put into a drawer, since I’m finding the process both enlightening and useful.  (I’d hate to say “trunked” since I may still pull it back out again later, who knows with this one.)

September 2013.

Sent Queen off to a handful of readers who volunteered after my post requesting help.  Even though this is not a novel but a novella, I was not confident I’d hear back or that those who read it would like it, considering the story matter.  But nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I then distracted myself by writing the rough draft of a 7.5k short story in 2 weeks, completely surprising myself that I managed to pull that one off.  I really needed it, though, both the story and the success in writing it so quickly.  (It was also short-listed in October which made me so happy. I am so grateful for that, too.)

November-December 2013.

November, I heard back from the one reader who ended up sending me feedback.  In December over the holidays I questioned the family members who had also read it for second opinions about how certain things played out, just so I could get some rough sketch about what direction to take revisions in.

I’m not going to lie, I got really discouraged.  And it wasn’t so much the idea that there were still revisions to do that was discouraging as the realization that I would have very little help or feedback to revise with.  With so little interest in the story or follow-through from the volunteers, I had to decide whether it was worth pursuing this story, dumping more of my resources into finding help for it, or calling it off.  While trying to decide, I took advantage of #Pitmas to learn how to write better pitches.  I didn’t place, but I did learn more about pitching, thanks to Amanda C. Davis‘ help.  (If you haven’t read any of her stories, you’re missing out.  She’s a fantastic person and superb writer.)

It’s also worth noting that I was EXTREMELY burnt out from churning out 50k of non-fiction in November on top of my chronic illness.  That was an incredibly unwise grind I put myself through, but like all folly-filled experiences, I learned a lot from it.   Still, not very happy months, writing-wise.

January 2014.

I tried to revise Queen for about a week, the second week of January after returning home from the holidays.  I was still so burnt-out and exhausted, though, that I gave that up after a week of very little progress and even more discouragement to show for it.  I realized that I can’t edit/revise on an empty well.  The next week I started drafting a follow-up story to the short story I wrote in September, and instantly felt better and became happier.  I modified my goals to writing a little bit each day, resting and recovering from burn-out.

February 2014.

Still, my original plan was to submit Queen to World Weaver Press during its open submission period in February.  I wasn’t going to let my discouragement stop me completely.  Besides, I’m never going to get better at writing queries if I don’t practice writing queries.  So, fully expecting not to actually pass the query phase, I retooled my query for the third and  fourth time, sent it to a friend who helped me get it into its fifth form, and smacked on the requested first 5k and sent it off.  And now as I write this, I’ve just received an e-mail saying they would like to see the full manuscript plus a synopsis.  Like pitches and queries, the last synopsis I wrote was about 7 years ago and it was absolutely terrible.   So now I get to finish revising and draft a passable synopsis (hopefully not a terrible one) in a reasonable amount of time.  Hopefully by the end of this week.

If nothing else comes of this, I am glad of two things: One, I wrote a query that squeaked me by into the next stage, which I was completely not expecting to pull off, considering how terrible my query started out; Two, that this novella is getting read, even if by only a few, and that it is teaching me how to pitch and write queries, how to write then revise a full story rather than just individual chapters.  I have learned and am learning a lot.  And even if this story does not make it into public readership for whatever reason, I needed to write it and I’m glad I did.

ETA: I used writing my synopsis as a tool to also help me revise for draft 3.0.  I’ve heard of people using outlines to revise and I think this is on the same lines.   It was like being able to take step back a few feet to look at a painting from far away rather than close up.   So that was encouraging.  I probably could have–or should have–taken more time to revise, but I wanted to get this submission package out by the end of this week rather than keep them waiting forever and my energy is not limitless and I did burn myself out working on this on Monday, oops.

April 2014.

Just got a very nice rejection for the story, and one that is perfectly understandable.  She liked my writing, the characters and the setting, but the plot and story structure wasn’t the kind she liked.  So, from here I’m going to do what I said I would.  I don’t have the means to self-publish QUEEN, and I need a break from it anyway, so I’m shelving it for now rather than continue to hunt down both a publisher that takes unsolicited novellas and one I’d want to work with.  From here, I’m going to focus my efforts somewhere else.

I won’t say much more, but I will say I’m glad I did this. I’ve learned a lot from the journey of crafting this story and recording my thoughts about it.  I’m also glad I wrote QUEEN how and when I did.  QUEEN is one of the stories I needed to write, but just because I needed to write it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be enjoyed or liked by all and sundry.  Is life, that’s just how it goes. 🙂

Until next time!


As a break from the ramblings of last week, have some Internet on a platter.

Like, look! I am not the only writer with a fascination for crows.  And a couple weeks ago I watched the awards ceremony for the Writer’s of the Future contest and I have decided that this guy is awesome.

As for thought-provoking articles, a friend of mine has written the best defense for multicultural casting in movies I have ever read. I highly recommend that you trot yourself over and see what she has to say.  These are current issues as we saw in the failure of the Avatar: The Last Airbender movie and The Hunger Games film which is currently in production.

Tor.com also has two very interesting articles. The first is basically how the 3-Act Formula can actually kill trilogies, and the second is a very fascinating summary on the movie The Dark Knight‘s conversation on what crime is and how to fight it.  Both are very intelligent articles and well worth the time to read and mull over.

Finally, have another song that originally influenced the book I’m writing.

I find music to be one of the most inspiring things in this universe.  Don’t you?

(Note: There are two videos embedded in this post.)

Update on Goals.

There’s no way I can meet my goal of finishing A Cautionary Tale of Love and War by the end of the month.  I have to keep playing the back and forth game of dreaming of reaching the stars and then belatedly realizing that my health means I have to crawl–not run–to get there.

If there’s one thing I have a hard time doing these days it’s meeting deadlines.  I managed to meet all the ones I set for myself in April, but this go around it looks like that’s a No.

One thing I have learned from this is that expectations are what take the most energy out of you and give you the  most frustrations.  Expectations should be moldable, interchangeable, adaptable. Hope should be a constant fuel.  I hadn’t realized that expectation and hope were two separate things before.  I’m still trying to work it out, but that’s what I’ve got so far.

So here are my new set of goals to attempt to adapt to the situation I’m facing.

  1. Continue to crawl towards my goal of finishing A Cautionary Tale soon. (Never give up, never surrender!)
  2. Sign-post goal of finishing THE WITCH’S TOWER by the end of July still. I likely won’t make that goal, but if not I still have the goal of finishing before WorldCon in August.
  3. It appears the short story a month goal is too much to add on top of that. So let’s change that to short story per quarter, so I can have something to submit to Writers of the Future.  I have short story ideas enough to last me the end of the year while still focusing mostly on noveling.

News! And some long-term goals

As of last week–Two things of import!

  1. Meg and I have decided we’re going to WorldCon together in August. Woot! The timing and location work out really well, so I think it’s a go!
  2. My novel THE WITCH’S TOWER now has an ending I’m happy with!  I’m also passed my block of uncertainty on what should happen in the upcoming scenes. All because of insomnia.  Sometimes unpleasant things have good outcomes.

So! Anyone else going to WorldCon this year?

Other than that, I’ve been thinking about long-term goals recently. Using spreadsheets, I’ve mapped out the next months until the end of the year.

I still really want to have THE WITCH’S TOWER done by the end of July. That will hopefully give me enough time to fix the chapters I wrote without all the backstory I now know  and will give me about a month’s leeway before WorldCon at the end of August.  I’m penciling in September as a month of edits as well, and we’ll reevaluate from there.

I also have decided I want to write a short story, novelette, or novella every month.  The novel comes first in priority, of course, but it’s nice having a side project to take breaks on.  Also, I think it is a nice pace to go on, considering the short story writing markets’ typical response times. I’m going to stay organized and I’m going to keep my stories on submission. They don’t do any good just sitting on my hard drive, and even if they’re getting rejected–at least someone besides me is reading them!

As for the e-book publishing world vs. the traditional publishing world question, after much inward debating, I’ve decided that I still love Tor-Forge and DAW books too much not to try to become a part of their book community.  You don’t need an agent to submit to them, either, so I will definitely make submitting to them and doing my best to present myself and my novels well to them a top priority.

There are a few more things I should mention about possible projects in the future.  When I get to Utah, perhaps in July, a couple of things will happen. First, I will have my Maze of Mirrors script again, so that will add itself to my projects.  Second, I will have access to all of my translation materials and resources–including Pierre Corneille’s machine play Andromède, which I translated and compiled in 2008.  I am still hoping to review it, edit it some more, translate some additional materials and try to get it published.  We will see if I can end up publishing it traditionally…but really there is not a huge market for translated books in America that aren’t somehow textbook related.  Now I am beginning to wonder if I can’t release it as an e-book for the Kindle or Nook, etc.  There might be a market for it? If only as a sort of curiosity piece?  It really is a brilliant play, and I did a poetry to prose translation so it’s more approachable and I don’t think my writing is half bad, either.  My good friend and artist Niki Smith has already done the cover art for it and she did a gorgeous job with the design.

Other goals include going to ComicCon or TCAF next year. I’ve decided. I love art so, so much. And really, I can’t stay broke forever. New adventures must be had!

So long, folks! This entry brought to you by randomosity!

Short stories, novellas, hmmm thinking aloud

So, I have lots of story ideas swimming around in my muddy, murky mind.  One thing I am noticing about CFS is that I have a really hard time holding onto big pictures and keeping details in my head, problem-solving and…just a lot of things that make it difficult to work on something novel-sized.   Even outlining I forget what I’ve outlined.

So I’m considering readapting my writing schedule a bit, and cutting down on the scope of things.  In other words, just writing short stories and novellas for a while.  I hit 12k on one project and am finding even its size a bit discouraging.

So I’m going to babble about projects and goals to adapt to this. The ones in bold are what I’m currently writing.  List of short stories/novellas goes like this –

  • The Ghost of Heaven’s Garden. 1k. Finished & edited twice through.
  • A Cautionary Tale of Love and War. 12k & ongoing.
  • Aji Dobi: Little Fox.  (Idea stage.) Possible prequel story to The Harvest Mask, set hundreds of years into the past. The story of a little farm girl among the Hu people who becomes a famous historical figure.
  • The Harvest Mask. (Planning & research stage, adapted from novel-size) About Iris, a slave girl who stops a political coup set in an alternate Manchurian China.
  • The Miller’s Daughter. 1k & ongoing.  About a girl who is confronted with a whole new future and chooses love instead.  DUE as a GreyJournal prompt on April 10!
  • Armenian Tale. (planning & research stage.)  – I’m adapting this novel to novella size, as well.

I think…these are enough short stories to work on. Lol.  I still feel THE WITCH’S TOWER novel hanging on me.  I do want to finish it, but I’m not sure if it’d be the most productive project to work on, considering the things I’m struggling with.  I mean, I do rather feel guilty? Because I have 3 novels started but unfinished.

So…how’s this for goals?

  1. Daily writing goal: 500-1k words.  But more realistically, spend ONE HOUR at least each day. So that includes days I need for brainstorming and research.
  2. I’m allowed to alternate between ONE short story and ONE novel.  For sake of variety and if I get stuck on something.  For now, A Cautionary Tale of Love and War counts as a novel because it’s an interior story in one.
  3. Finish The Miller’s Daughter by April 10. Finish A Cautionary Tale of Love and War by the end of May.

(x-posted from TheGreyJournal)