Lunacon – Shenanigans!

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Fans and folks, this coming weekend, April 7-9 in Tarrytown, NY, is Lunacon 2017, which is, according to the website, “the New York area’s longest-running Science Fiction convention.” Pretty cool, yes?

And this year, the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers will be there, doing it up right! We have a reading on Friday night as a group, and also one of our own rising superstars, S. A. Chakraborty, will have her own reading of The City of Brass, which comes out this fall from Harper Voyager.

If you’re going, or can go, please consider supporting our gang as we stalk the halls of our most local convention.

Also, I’ll be a panelist (and moderator!) for a few panels:

  • Writing Groups 101–Saturday at noon
  • Writing About/For LGBT–Saturday at 6:00 pm
  • Writer’s Groups, Degrees, Programs Oh My! (Moderator)–Sunday at 2:30 pm

If Lunacon is not on your schedule, there’s still plenty of time to consider Readercon, which the BSFW considers our home convention. This will be the second year that 20-25 of us will be there. Practically a gang!

Slowly Coming Around

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As convention season approaches (assuming there IS a convention season), I kick myself in the ass, as always, for not having more published stories out in the world. Alas, alack, and all that. I have only myself to blame. In particular, my allergy to editing, which I have written about a year ago.

Well, time for a progress report.

I do love a good challenge, particularly a personal challenge. If it’s a goal that I can put on a list and check off, I’m in. As to whether or not I check off goals more often than I simply move them over and over to some future day…no comment.

But this editing thing needed to be conquered. I mean, I have this astounding writing group that gives some of the best critique available, and if all I do is take the feedback and file it away instead of putting it to use, that’s nobody’s problem but my own.

So what is my deal with editing, anyway? I asked my therapist. Then, in the great therapeutic tradition of therapists who stare and nod sagely, I answered my therapist. Fear.

That age-old fuel of procrastinators everywhere. I mean, what is editing but an confirmation that you’re not a good writer, right? Look at all that terrible prose, so replete with stinkiosity that you have to EDIT IT.

At least, that’s how the old me saw it. In the past year, I feel like I’ve gone back to school, looking at prose, at voice and style and story structure, in new ways. I’ve taken old stories and made them new with all that I’ve learned in the ensuing years. It’s been a journey.

I’ve been editing stories lately at a rapid clip, trying to get them back into circulation. After an embarrassingly long hiatus, I’m starting to submit stories again.

I read these stories aloud as a step in the final editing process. Lately, I’m more pleased than horrified. That’s progress.

Reading vs Listening

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I’m a HUGE fan of audio literature. I define that term rather broadly to include both audiobooks and short story podcasts, as well as newer platforms like Serial Box, which is supporting longer-form storytelling by multiple authors.

The advantage for me, as a New York City commuter, is multifold. Audio content helps me take advantage of my commute. It’s rare for me to get a seat, and sometimes I’m on a train so crowded that even reading a physical book is impossible. In addition, as an author, listening to the podcasts magazines produce allows me to keep up with multiple magazines and a broad spectrum of stories without spending a fortune on subscriptions. Plus, it helps me get a feel for each publication’s style and the type of stories they’re looking for.

It’s all part of an overall strategy I have for keeping up with the wild, wide world of fiction. I have several physical books I’m reading, both research and fiction, I have ebooks I read almost exclusively on my phone, and I have audio fiction for the in-between times.

Recently, this fantastic article came to my attention:

As Far As Your Brain Is Concerned, Audiobooks Are Not ‘Cheating’

Not that my strategy needed any affirmation, since it works just fine for me. But I had no idea that anyone considered listening to books as “cheating.” As far as I’m concerned, a book listened to is a book “read.” That’s like saying if you weren’t staring at the television for the entire duration of a show, you didn’t “watch” it. I mean, isn’t television a visual medium?

So there you have it, not just on my authority, but the New York Times, for crying out loud. Paper, digital, audio–it doesn’t matter how you absorb your fiction. For the love of words, just read!

The Method Behind My Madness – Tomato!

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I, like many others in this technology-drenched era, have had to adapt to a shrinking attention span. The ease and programmed addictiveness of modern distractions have made it nearly impossible to construct a full sentence before I go running in a completely different direction.

I have short-cuts and cheats that help me focus: ambient noise, music, writing in coffeehouses, etc. But the best tool I’ve found for conquering distractivitis is the Pomodoro Method.
It means “tomato.” Don’t ask me why.
The method is pretty simple:
  • Work 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break. That’s 1 Pomodoro.
    • During your break, get up. Move around. Stretch. Replenish your beverage.
  • Every 4 “Pomodoros,” take a 20-30 minute break.
The key to success of this method for me is an enforced period of concentration on a single task. Key word – single.
If you’re gonna make a day of it, you list out all the things you want to get done, figure out how many Pomodoros each task will require, and get to work. Then you get the satisfaction of checking things off your list, which the Type-A side of my personality finds deeply gratifying.
Especially gratifying is the fact that I can get my daily writing goal of 250 words done in a single pomodoro! But why stop there?
A quick search in the app store of your choice will turn up some swell, basic pomodoro timers.
The Isochronic Pomodoro Timers on YouTube are a treat, incorporating soothing sound effects (rainstorm, waves, etc.) with an Isochronic tone that is supposed to heighten concentration. Give them a try.
C’mon-a wanna Pom-a with me?

Editing sucks! / Editing’s great!

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I am of two minds on this topic, obvy.

Let’s call it a journey, shall we? You can’t develop much of a writing career if all you do is write. And let’s face it – writing is the fun part and editing, as stated above, sucks.

At least that’s how I view it right now.

Current writerly wisdom states that first drafts are systemically awful, and that the true magic of storytelling happens in the editing process. Editing is also the barrier between a story and a publishable story. So my current views on editing are hobbling me as a writer.

I have always defined “progress” as “writing,” believing that if I wasn’t writing anything new, I was, in essence, standing still. All of my goals as a writer have not been focused on learning more about craft or honing my story-polishing skills. Wordcount, wordcount, wordcount, has been my mantra of writing success.

Until now.

I will be setting editing goals, just as real and relevant as my writing goals. Perhaps more so. I have seen the light, and the light has politely informed me that I have been getting in the way of my true end-goal, which is and has always been publication.

So here’s my new mindset: editing is awesome! Editing is fun! Editing is just as creative as writing! Editing and writing two inextricable components of the same process!

Editing’s great!

 

Have You Heard My Voice?

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You may not know this about me. I’m a trained singer and actor. Those skills have found their place in podcasting, where I not only help host a podcast, but also narrate audio fiction.

And here you thought I was just another pretty face!

RecenKC_icontly, one of my narrations went live at the Kaleidocast podcast, where I was privileged to narrate “His Only Nose” by Richard Bowes. It’s a romp of a story, which I thought called for just a bit of an accent.

Check out my other voice work on my website, and if you have any audio narration, audio acting or singing needs, hit me up! Its fun to do and I want to do more.

​ I Have A New Story In The World! And A Podcast To Go With It

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My story “The Path That Splits the Oak Asunder” is live as part of the Kaleidocast podcast. Listen to the story here, then go to the website to find out more about the podcast. My story is in Episode 3.
You can listen to the podcast at the website, on Soundcloud, or on iTunes. If you like the podcast, there are 6 other episodes to listen to. Please subscribe, and rate us on iTunes.
The goal of this project is to share the extreme talent of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers alongside other excellent writers. It’s all nested inside a fractured other-Brooklyn I hope you enjoy exploring alongside the characters we’ve created to guide you along the way.
In future blog posts, I’ll share the long and winding road that led from “I love podcasts, so I should make a podcast” to the Kaleidocast, a very real and very cool thing in the world.
Hope you enjoy!