Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cone Zero Review: The Pros of Critical Reading

From the writer's point of view, why purchase a magazine or ongoing anthology that you're planning to submit to? After all, for most writers, our resources are limited. Sometimes we just don't got the money.

Or so I believe we all think sometimes. Yes, sure all writers want to support publications, especially the ones we enjoy submitting to, but when it comes down to choosing what to buy and when...but in reading the anthology Cone Zero Nemonymous for a review, I discovered a number of advantages to critically reading a publication.

What did I notice first when reading Cone Zero Nemonymous? First, I ended up reading more than one story twice. I kept getting caught up in the stories and forgetting that I was supposed to be critically reading. So I asked myself "Why?" In re-reading, I realized that the stories, while over a wide variety of unique styles all contained one defining element. (This anthology perhaps might be described as horror or fantasy or even magical realism. The editor DF Lewis has wide open doors for his anthologies. Witness the guidelines for Cern Zoo.)

The element? All the stories, whether humorous and fun, such as in the story "The Point of Oswald Masters" or the eerie haunting horror of "An Oddly Quiet Street" center on the characters and their emotional conflict. Although this is in some ways a "genre" anthology, none of the stories are truly plot driven. This supports a trend or shift in the way readers read and what they want to read overall. I've noticed fewer and fewer short stories and novels, no matter what the genre, to be plot driven. It's all about characters now. This is important for any writer to know.

Part of the phenomenon I've noticed and noticed in Cone Zero: short stories now seem to fall into two categories, either short-short (1000 words or less) or longer than we used to read, sometimes novellas. Used to be difficult to sell a story over 2000 words, now many markets request 3000 to 6000 words or more. I believe this is because readers want developed characters and it just takes more words.

All editor/publishers have different styles, approach and premises for their various publications. One important thing I learned from reading Cone Zero is that not only do I enjoy DF Lewis' tastes in writing, but that I was impressed with the quality of the stories. It moved any anothology edited by Lewis high up on my list of markets to submit to. Writing for such a market is a challenge and a learning experience.

Have you bought a magazine or anthology for critical reading? For reading as a market? If so, what did you learn from the experience?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Self Congratulations & Celebrations

My celebratory chocolate with the cat wondering if he likes chocolate.

The cat has decided he doesn't like chocolate.

Self congratulations are in order. As I posted earlier, I prioritized and set my intentions to finish my rough draft by a certain time--and succeeded! Thanks in part to great support and encouragement by fellow blogger Kathy McIntosh of Well Placed Words. Thanks, Kathy!

Now, the next step, is, as Margie Lawson points out, is to congratulate and celebrate. Why? Because if we don't enjoy the small victories along the way, if we just slog along, where will we get the renewing refreshment of success. Why not celebrate the small victories? It takes time and effort to complete a rough draft--why do we ignore and dismiss the accomplishment?

So, part of my celebration, thanks to my s.o.'s delightful mom, Dorothy, is a bit of Valentine's chocolate. Another part is a congratulatory dinner my delightful significant other is taking me to this Saturday. And then, renewed, refreshed and invigorated--onto the next draft!

Do you take the time to celebrate the small victories? If not, why not? If so, what do you do?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day


To all creative people. Remember, today is a day of love, so indulge your passion, embrace your bliss!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th and Priorities

Happy Friday the 13th!

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted. I decided to follow my own advice and prioritize. I'm finishing the rough draft of my w.i.p. by February 16th, my own personal intention. I'm two-and-a-half big scenes away.

Meanwhile, I've got new exercise classes to set up and teach. Plus fighting off a cold and struggling with allergies. Meanwhile, I've read all my favorite fellow blogger's great entries, but haven't had a breath to comment. But I'm getting 'er done and will be back soon!

Anyone superstitious about Friday the 13th? I often have GOOD luck--how about you?