Living the Fictional Dream

Erin M. Kinch’s musings upon the writing profession

Archive for the 'My Stories' Category

The Apprentice

Well… I am blushing right now. I had my short story, “The Apprentice,” accepted at Residential Aliens a few months ago, but, somehow, in all the holiday and vacation madness, I missed the publication date (12/2/12). But, despite that, the issue of RA that the story was published in is still on the website, so you should head on over there and check it out!

“The Apprentice” is a prequel to a story that RA published a couple of years ago called, “The Sorcerer’s Wife.” TSW a story about the end of Brand’s life, and TA is a story about the beginning. Viola, the antagonist in TSW was such a vibrant character that she inspired me to write another story, this time from her point of view.

If I ever thought of a concept big enough, this would be a fun world to revist for a novel. TA goes a little more in detail about the Game, but there is still more to learn.

Anyway, I don’t want to say too much else or I’ll give away the story, but head on over to RA today to read “The Apprentice,” and if you haven’t read “The Sorcerer’s Wife,” you should check that one out, as well (in fact, I’d recommend reading that one first.

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Acceptance!

One of the four stories I sent out on submission last month was accepted. Woo-hoo! It’s been a while since I felt that feeling — since “The Vote” was accepted by Every Day Fiction back in 2010, I guess.

Anyway, I’m very excited. The story should be published by the end of the year. I will link it here when it’s live.

It’s a prequel to a story that I wrote a few years ago that I really liked. I enjoyed going back to those characters and that world, and I’m really excited that the story was so well recieved by the editor.

What a great way to start off the month of September! :-)

Here’s hoping that at least one of the other stories out there on submission has similar luck.

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RIP ATF

I was so sad to find out this week that A Thousand Faces, the quarterly journal of superhero fiction, has ceased publication. I’ve known other markets that folded in the past, including some that folded after printing my stories. Even one that folded when they wanted to publish one of my stories and had not done so yet (which sucked!). But this one hurts the worst. And I didn’t even have any stories out to them at the time.

I’m probably late to the game finding out that they ceased publication. I don’t know when they closed their doors. What with the toddlers running about, I’ve had next to no time lately for writing, much less checking out all my favorite short fiction markets. But I was feeling a need for some superhero fiction this other day, went to my bookmarks, and the link didn’t work.

My sadness is two-fold. First of all, I’m sad because I really loved the stories that Frank published. He focused on the man (or woman) behind the mask, and brought the heroes into the real world. And yet, the writing was always fast paced and packed a punch. Are there other places out there to find similar fiction (especially that I can read online for free)? Maybe there are. Despite both liking superhero fiction and writing it, I’ve never been much into comic books, so I’m not up on what’s current there. If you know of any good markets, hit the comments and give me a link!

The other reason I’m sad is that of the four superhero stories I’ve had published, ATF published three of them (EDF published the other, Frigid). My first ATF story (Zero to Clean in Ten Minutes or Less) was my second fiction acceptance ever. And one of the other two (Bridge Club) is one of my favorite short stories I’ve ever written. And the third (Dinner for Three) was just good fun. I actually had a couple more superhero story drafts set in that universe that I thought I might get polished up enough to send over there sometime soon (Supersonic and his wife have a baby, and a superhero’s wife wants a divorce). Sadly, that’s not going to happen now. Not that I can’t submit them elsewhere, but ATF was, thus far, the home base for my superhero ‘verse.

Short fiction markets come, and short fiction markets go, but I have to say, A Thousand Faces, you will be missed! (But, I did notice that you can still get print issues of the old issues here. So, that’s something. :-) ).

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The End of My Streak

Every Day Fiction just published its August table of contents, and I’m not on it. How is that different from the last 12 EDF TOCs, you might ask? Well, it’s not different. However, August is EDF’s last TOC of the year. The fact that I have not been on any of their TOCs since July 2010 is not particularly remarkable in most respects. The past couple of years, I haven’t been able to devote the same amount of time and effort to my writing as I did from 2007 and 2008. Two pregnancies, working full time, and being a mom to two under two saw to that. It’s hard to find time and energy to write when you’re suffering from lack of sleep, lack of spare time, and feeling like you’re going to toss your cookies for the better part of two years.

But, despite everything that was going on, I did have one story published in EDF in 2009, and, to my surprise, it was selected for EDF’s third anthology. I’d had a story in their first anthology, and four stories in their second anthology. But, this year, since I didn’t have a story published, I don’t even have a chance of making the fourth anthology. So, the streak is broken.

I did actually manage to submit a story to EDF a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t sure if it was in time. Apparently not, as it’s still classified as in process in the submission queue.

Anyway, I know it’s my fault that the streak is broken, but it still makes me a little sad. But, hey, the girls are getting older now. I’m moving from having two under two to having two toddlers. Maybe that will be easier? Um… one can hope, though the increased mobility makes things challenging in different ways. So, maybe next year, I’ll be able to write more and get some more stories out there on submission, to EDF and other places. The girls are starting to enjoy Sesame Street, maybe that will give me a few minutes in front of the laptop to write.

Is it possible to write with the theme song to “Elmo’s World” playing in the background? I guess we’ll see!

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The First Germ

When you are “with story,” what is the first thing that comes to you? That germ of an idea. The one that seems much too small to spawn anything like a story or a novel. That little whisper in your ear, begging you to sit down at the keyboard. That first inspiration of a story to come. Is it a character? A setting? A line of dialog? I even read a quote from one author that the germ that spawned her best-selling series was a scene that she dreamed.

For me, it varies (probably true of most writers). For “Bridge Club,” it was the idea of superheroes wives working behind the scenes. “The Widow and the Stranger” came from me thinking about Atlantis. “Honor Bound” came from a writing prompt provided by one of my writing group mates that challenged me to write a compelling action sequence. “A Castle in the Clouds” was inspired by a chapter title in the novel Little Women (even though, in Little Women, the castle in the clouds was not literal).

Usually, though, my first inspiration is an idea — something not grand enough to call a plot, but that little idea the plot evolves from. Occasionally it’s a character or something else, but usually, it’s an idea or situation.

Recently, my muse has been whispering a title in my ear. Normally, titles are one of my worst things. I feel that it’s really difficult capture the essence of a story in a few words that are exciting enough to draw a reader in. Very seldom to I write a title that I’m actually excited about, though I have come up with a few. I was particularly partial to the title “Zero to Clean in Ten Minutes or Less.” I also really liked the title, “The Widow and the Stranger.” But a title is very rarely my starting point.

There was one story that came title first, but that was because the writing exercise my writing group was doing was to pick a title from a provided list (spawned from the automatic title generator) and write the story inspired by the title. That story became “The Care and Feeding of your Sleeping Knight,” which was in the top 10 stories at Every Day Fiction for quite a while.

Currently, my muse is whispering a fully formed title in my ear. It’s very strange. I have a title, but no story. I’ve bee poking at the title, noodling it around to see if the story will begin to work it’s way free. Tonight I got a small glimmer of a possible plot that would match the title. Nothing solid yet.

It’s definitely a different way of thinking about writing. It’s like building from the top down instead of from the ground up.

Happy writing, all!

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Publishing Updates

A lovely, thick envelope came for me in the mail the other day. I received it on my birthday, and what a great birthday treat it was. Inside the envelope was my contributor’s copy of ResAliens #5, complete with eye-catching cover art and printed pages full of good stories. The second story in this issue was a reprint of my vampire hunter story, “Not Your Kind of Heathen.”

I’ve always been fond of this story. Rachel is a vampire hunter, and her biggest weapon in the fight against the undead is her faith. However, just because she believes in God, that doesn’t mean she isn’t pissed as hell at Him. If you’d like to read a little more about the backstory of this tale, here’s the link to the blog entry I wrote about it when it was first published.

I have to say, though, that while the first e-publication was cool (even though now that e-zine is long gone), I’m much more excited about NYKoH’s appearance in ResAliens. I’ve enjoyed ResAliens since it was solely an e-zine, but the new print version is really awesome. You should definitely check it out! (And I have a story in issue #2, as well.)

In other news, I just heard that my story, “The Vote,” was selected for inclusion in Every Day Fiction’s third annual anthology. I’m very excited to be included. The previous two EDF anthologies were very well done and included lots of great stories by  excellent writers. I’m sure this one will be the same. At least one other writing group mate will be in the anthology, as well — Go, Writer’s Ink!

In rejection news, a weird little story that I sent out to a relatively big podcast market was rejected a couple of months ago. However, my thrill from that rejection was that instead of the standard form rejection (which I’d received several times), I actually got a personal rejection note from the editor. Not only did he say he liked the story (though it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for), but he told me to keep submitting. It felt like I finally got noticed by that market. Maybe, if I found something more up their alley, it would be a good time to try them again…

And now, to wind things up, here are a few links to other stories from the last few months that you might want to check out:

Now, if I could just find a little time amongst changing diapers, running after a toddler on the go, and taking care of a six-month-old, maybe 2011 will be a better year for me writing and submitting-wise. We’ll call it a goal!

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The Vote

Happy 4th of July, everyone! To celebrate this auspicious day, head on over to Every Day Fiction and read the story of the day, which is my story, “The Vote.”

It’s not actually a patriotic story. It doesn’t have anything to do with the holiday, at all. “The Vote” is my flash piece about the zombie apocalypse. The rest of this entry describes my inspiration and writing process. Unless you’re into spoilers, I would head on over to EDF now and read it, then come back and finish the blog entry.

I wrote the first draft of this story after I randomly watched the new version of Dawn of the Dead on TV. I stumbled upon it and got sucked in before I knew what was going on. In retrospect, that movie was not one I should have been watching. I’m OK with horror movies. I’ve never watched a lot of zombie movies, but I’m not against them per se. The things about Dawn of the Dead that affected me were the horrible things that humans will do to each other when circumstances are bad and the sheer hopelessness of the situation. (Spoiler for the movie: If it had ended after they sailed away instead of having the unhappy tag about the boat dying and the island being zombie-infested, too, I might have not been quite as disturbed afterwards.)

Anyway, Dawn of the Dead haunted me for days. Strangely enough, one of the prompts for my writing group’s prompts contest that month was to “write about something horrible.” And, thus, “The Vote” was born. Writing it helped me get the yuck of that movie out of my brain and lay DotD to rest.

The story has been through several drafts since then. The first draft was all character development, and the action an after-thought at the end. The second draft cut out a lot of the character development and focused more on Jill’s great escape (the second draft also allowed Jill to get away, when she and everyone on the semi died in the first draft). Thanks to two rounds of critiques from my intrepid writing group, I found a good balance between the two, and I’m pretty happy with the final product.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t really think Jill survives for a long and happy life. It is possible. Though it was cut from the final version, her uncle has a provisioned survival bunker. Maybe she makes it there on her rattle-trap forklift, finds other survivors, and is able to wait out the zombie apocalypse with them until the zombies run out of prey and become inanimate again. But, sadly, chances are, Jill will find another pack of zombies when she’s almost out of gas and weak from lack of food and they’ll take her down.

However, I think it’s better to leave her ultimate fate to the minds of the reader. The glimmer of hope at the end is enough to help those of us who prefer things not to be totally dismal and depressing. And readers who do prefer the “realistic” depressing ending can easily fill that in for themselves. That’s what flash fiction is all about, right? Giving just enough that the story takes on a life of its own.

If you read “The Vote” and enjoyed it, please vote on its star rating on the EDF site. The more star votes a story has, the better shot is has of making it into the top stories classification. And I always love to hear from people who liked my stories — a comment on the story at EDF or a comment here on the blog would be great.

Happy 4th of July, everyone. And don’t let the zombies put the bite on you!

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Catching up on the News

Hello to anyone who’s still out there! Sorry for the long delay between posts. Times have been crazy of late, but more on that later.

I have a few tidbits of news to share. First of all, Every Day Fiction has released the table of contents for July 2010, and guess who’s on it? Yours truly! I’ve had reprints published this year, but this will be my first official new story published in 2010. I’m excited! And the TOC mentioned me specifically as a “returning favorite.” That was nice to read.

Tune into EDF on the 4th of July and read my story, “The Vote.” I’m not going to say too much about the story until the 4th, but I will warn you ahead of time that it’s not a 4th of July story. In fact, its more apocalyptic than patriotic. But I had an interesting voyage writing and revising it, so I’m thrilled that it’s going to be joining my other stories published by EDF.

In other news, I received a contributor’s copy the other day. It was print issue #2 of Residential Aliens, which includes a reprint of my story, “The Sorcerer’s Wife.” The story originally appeared in the ResAliens webzine, and has now graced their print ‘zine, as well. If you’d like a copy for your very own, click here. It’s a great little ‘zine. I’m really happy with it. And if you want to read TSW online, it’s still available in the ResAliens archives.

My writing group had its annual Story Every Day (SED) contest in June. Sadly, I was the winner. The goal of the story is to write a new story of at least 500 words every day for two weeks. The winner is the person with the most stories, and if there is a tie, the winner is the person with the most stories and the highest word count. I say sadly I was the winner because I was able to write a whopping… wait for it… three stories. **sigh** Not a banner year for the SED contest. But, on the bright side, every story written is a good thing, so three (or two, or one, as others in the group wrote) is something to be proud of. I was hoping for more, but my muse just was not cooperating.

Why wasn’t my muse cooperating, do you ask? Well, I guess it is time to tell y’all. On the personal front, there has been stuff going on, contributing to the “crazy” in my life that I mentioned earlier.

For those readers who haven’t heard, I am pregnant. Again! Less than a year after my darling little girl was born, Hubby and I find ourselves expecting number 2. It was definitely sooner than we had planned (if this little one carries to term, as sister did not, they will be 14 months apart), but we are very excited. The new baby is due in September.

For some reason, though, when I’m pregnant, my muse clams up on me. Hence not much activity around the old blog, or on my writing in general.

Add that to working full-time, chasing around after a little girl who is crawling like the wind and working on that walking thing, and planning a first birthday party for next week, and life has been hectic to the max. I’m loving every minute, though (OK… maybe not the actual work, but even that is not so bad, LOL).

I hope all of you out there in blog land are doing well. I miss reading everyone’s blogs and commenting. If I ever have a bit of spare time, I really want to get back to that. I hope you’re all doing well, and that everyone is having a truly fantastic summer (as well as super-high word counts!).

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A Nice Surprise

Some might say the surprise is me posting. **sighs** I will spare you all tales about how insane work has been of late. Technical writing really can suck the urge to write anything else (even the fun stuff) right out of you!

This afternoon, I was taking a break from my latest work project for a long-overdue spin around EDF. After reading a few of the recent offerings (The Orangery was quite good!), I hopped over, as usual, to the top stories page. And, what did I see? A Castle in the Clouds  made a reappearance on the top stories of all time list.

What a nice surprise in the middle of a random, boring Thursday! And it’s not (I don’t think) even an April Fool’s joke.

In other news, I had a really good critique at my writing group meeting on Tuesday. We had nearly a full house, and it was a fun meeting. Now if we all just weren’t so busy right now. I fear that writing is not anyone’s number 1 priority at the moment. But, as with all things, I’m sure priorities will shift.

Now I just need to find the time between work and my darling little girl to do something with all the great crit comments that I received on that story!

Oh, and my recent bad news is that my story that got short listed… the one that I’d been so iffy about sending… after just a few days on the short list, it got rejected. Bummer. But, hey, at least they liked it well enough to consider it. And since they didn’t want reprints in the first place, I think that means that the quality of the story must have impressed them (or so I will tell myself).

I hope everyone else out there is doing well, and that all you writers are finding the time to put pen to page (or fingers to keyboard).

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Here There Be Dragons

Today, Lame Goat Press  released its anthology, Kings of the Realm: A Dragon Anthology. My short story, “The Dragon Thief,” was reprinted in this anthology, so I’m excited to get a look at it. I’ve always had a soft spot for Reginald and his dragon.

And, of course, in addition to my story, there are a slew of others. The anthology is speculative in nature, so you’ll find dragon stories that run the gamut from fantasy to sci-fi to mystery.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of this anthology, you can do so here. Click away!

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