Fill The Shelves
If you love reading as much as I do, you probably like sharing books, and you feel delight whenever you see somebody else reading, too. Here's a way you can share books, feel that delight, and help disadvantaged kids all at the same time. Just follow the link below, and you can learn more about donating books to school libraries that have depleted shelves and even more depleted budgets.
Fill The Shelves
I've recently discovered Planet Baen, a game developed by Baen Books, where you can earn free ebooks by playing! Once I heard the words "free" and "books," I immediately ran over to check it out. It's not difficult at all, and I've already earned three ebooks just by investing a few minutes three or four times each day.
When my husband and I went to York several years ago, we went on a city tour. At one point, the guide said, "A Yorkshireman is a Scotsman, stripped of his generosity," and I knew immediately which of my ancestors' genes I had inherited. But I'm not a complete miser. I do spend money -- occasionally. For instance, I just bought Feedback, by Robison Wells, for full price, and two other books as well! And I suppose sheer guilt will goad me into buying at least a few full-price books from Baen. But until then, I'm glad of the opportunity to try out new books for free and maybe find some new favourite authors.
I just got the news from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine about my submission, Per Ardua Ad Astra. Rejected in the first round. The reader comments said that I had decent writing, good world-building, and an engaging protagonist, but the plot was quite predictable. I'm not really surprised. I felt that it was a weaker story than Viruskiller -- more pedestrian somehow. Now the only thing to do is to wait for Viruskiller to be rejected as well, then set my sights on Mindflights again. And, of course, keep trying to write new stories.
In other news, I won an Amazon gift certificate from Debra Erfurt's blog. Ten dollars! After much consideration, I decided to buy a book by Mette Ivie Harrison with the intriguing title of Vampires in the Temple. I mean, how could I resist? I've already finished reading it, too, and found it very enjoyable, with little bits of snark here and there, a mystery surrounding the protagonist that gradually unfolds as the story goes on, and a satisfying ending. I've also used what's left of the gift certificate to buy Dispirited, by Luisa M. Perkins. More good reading ahead!
Julie Coulter Bellon issued a flash fiction challenge over at her blog yesterday. We could write 400 words and had to include the phrase "the blood spatter made a strange pattern" somewhere in our piece. After having watched Men in Black 3, I was in a bit of a silly mood, so I came up with a little story that you can read by clicking here. For lack of a better title, I've just called it Blood Spatter for now. Hope you enjoy -- I thought it was fun!
Emboldened by my success with Viruskiller, I've now also submitted Per Ardua Ad Astra to the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Again, I have very little faith of it actually being published, but I can at least hope for some good reader comments. And maybe I'll submit Human there, too, just for the experience. Wish me luck!
I don't believe it! Viruskiller has just been put on the short list at Andromeda Spaceways! Squeal!
But they were careful to point out that only 1 in 20 stories make it from the short list to actual publication, and I'm now trying to convince myself that my story will end here. But still! I almost made it! Squeal!
In the meantime, I've been thinking about the "sparking" process that helps me come up with new ideas. Several years ago, I discovered a digital radio station called BBC Radio 7, which has since been re-named BBC Radio 4 Extra. They broadcast comedy and drama, and the thing that first drew me in was the fact that they broadcast audio productions of Doctor Who! I later learned that I can download these episodes, and anything else I want from BBC radio, via a nifty tool called Radio Downloader, and ever since then, I've been listening to many episodes of various audio productions while I go on my daily walk, or do that onerous housework. Aside from Doctor Who, I've also listened to adaptations of books from many genres, such as mystery, sci fi, fantasy, and even some classic literature such as Charles Dickens, C. S. Lewis, and Elizabeth Gaskell. This week, I've been listening to a production of The Railway Children, by Edith Nesbit, and one line in particular got me thinking. One of the children said something like, "It must be more fun to be a dragon than to be a parlour maid."
I immediately started thinking about life from a dragon's point of view, which of course reminded me of the BBC series Merlin (would be cool if they also had audio productions of Merlin, but so far, they don't, or at least not that I know of.) And eventually, in the fathomless depths of my brain, these two experiences combined and an new idea for a story was sparked into life. I've been thinking about it all weekend, trying to figure out an ending (very important for me, as that's where I most often fail) and now I've started writing. And I will not worry about the word count!
I suppose most writers go through a similar process, combining various elements of everything they've read and seen and heard, letting them get all jumbled together inside until --presto! -- something new and different pops out. It's just astounding, isn't it? Now I must work on not comparing the jumbling ability of my brain to that of other people, such as Iain M. Banks, Brandon Sanderson, Nancy Fulda, Emily Mah, or anybody else. I can already tell it will be a difficult task.
Actually, maybe I should give up chocolate instead. That'd be easier. ;-)
I just got an email from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, saying: "your submission has passed its initial reading, and we are now considering it for inclusion in Andromeda Spaceways.
Your story will now go through a second round of reading."
Since I was fully expecting to be booted out during the first round, I am overwhelmed with surprise and delight that I've made it this far.
In other news, I've been trying to find an idea for another story, but unfortunately, I tend to squelch anything that comes by thinking, "That will never fit into 1000 words, or even 5000!" Then the idea withers and dies, word gets around, and new ideas try to avoid me. I really must stop thinking about word count and just write!
I wasn't expecting a reply from Daily Science Fiction for another week, so naturally I was excited to see that they'd answered already. I should have known it wouldn't be good news. Another rejection, although this time they wrote: "PS nearly made our second round."
I suppose that's something, anyway. Now I just have to think of a new story idea and write it even better.
Well, in another bout of temporary insanity, I submitted Viruskiller to the Australian-based Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. I already know I haven't got a chance of being accepted, but if I'm very lucky, I might get some reader comments along with my rejection.
Well, the answer came from Daily Science Fiction, and it was no, they decided not to publish Viruskiller. But that's all right, because I've written another story that I will submit to them. It's called Human, and is a flash fiction of just under 1000 words. It says on the DSF site that they're more likely to publish the very short stories, so I think I might have a better chance with this one. And if not, well, good experience and all that.
Edit: I have just submitted Human and now I will have to wait at least three weeks for their answer. It will be a time of daydreaming and then reminding myself that the odds are against me.
I've written fanfic under the names of Jane Jinn and Zelofheda, and some original fic under my real name.