Living the Fictional Dream

Erin M. Kinch’s musings upon the writing profession

Archive for the 'Websites' Category

Know When to Stop

There is so much helpful writing information available on the internet. You can find blogs and articles devoted to every aspect of the craft, from plotting and editing your novel, to writing the perfect query letter, to the things you’ll have to do as a published author (assuming you ever make it that far).

The problem is, sometimes all these helpful resources get overwhelming. You start to question every word you write or whether you even want to be in this business in the first place. That’s the point when it’s time to STOP reading. Go back to your story and focus on what’s really important. I writer writes… a writer doesn’t read about writing (or, at least not ALL the time).

When I was pregnant, I had to stop reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It was a good book. Very informative and detailed. However, it was almost too informative. Every twinge and I was suddenly experiencing deep vein thrombosis or whatever ailment was described in the last chapter. Ultimately, I set it aside as daily reading and, instead, used it as a resource when I needed to look something up. That was much better.

And the same solution will work for writing articles on the Internet. Read a little to see if it is your kind of thing. Bookmark it to come back to later. Go back when you have a specific writing question, such as, “how do I crisp up this dialog” or “why isn’t my novel ending enough.” Then look for the answer to your specific question.

Then you can focus the rest of your time on what’s important — the writing!

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Vote for your favorite ‘Zine

Happy 2010, readers! I hope the new year is treating you well so far, and that the writers out there have already begun to garner plentiful word counts and loads of acceptance letters!

The Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll is live. It honors print and electronic publications that published in 2009. Click here to vote for your favorite ‘Zine.

There are a lot of good ones nominated this year. I had a hard time choosing! If you’re a fan of 10Flash, Residential Aliens, Everyday Fiction, or a score of other magazines, go over there and place a vote for your favorite.

To elminate ballot stuffing, you have to give your email address and click a confirmation link to make your vote valid, but that’s understandable. I hate polls where the same person can vote as many times as they want to.

Well, I have to run. The day job beckons, as do plans for my sister’s wedding. It is going to be a busy January at my house!

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Search Terms

The search terms that result in hits on this blog are interesting — at least to me.

For example, I wrote one post this year comparing my new favorite vampire paramour, Sookie Stackhouse, to former powerhouse Anita Blake, and, I swear, that post has garnered more search hits than any other. When I go through the list, 44 of the 108 tearch terms used in the past month were related to Sookie, Anita, or both.

My posts mentioning the Twilight series and the TV show Castle garnered quite a few search terms of their own, though not as many as Anita and Sookie did. Strangely enough, many searches people ran trying to find out the names of the writers in the poker game in the first episode of Castle hit my blog quite a few times. I guess I am a writer (and my blog is a writing blog) and I wrote an entry about Castle, so it makes sense.

The lesson I’ve learned from the above is that if you want search engines to direct people to your blog, blog about big names in pop culture. Of course, the caveat is that most of the people who visited my blog due to one of these searches spent little to no time on the site. For the one or two who spent a few minutes, most of the others spent 00:00:00.

My post on vampires versus werewolves came up with several search topics that were actually on the same topic (search terms like “what’s the rivalry between vampires and werewolves”).

My recent post about wacky eye colors in L.J. Smith’s novels made my blog hit on a search for “characters with unique eyes” — so, I guess, that one person’s crazy eyes is another person’s unique.

The biggest laugh I got reading the search results was the search term “clavicle sexy.” The blog hit on that one because of the post I wrote a while back about the latest novel in the Luxe series and how the auther way overused the term clavicle when describing her characters.

And then there is the strangeness of searches like “erin selkie” and “erin’s story blog.” Of course it makes perfect sense that those searches would turn up hits for this blog. The oddness comes from the fact that of those two searches, one recorded zero time spent on the site and the other recorded only 3 seconds spent. Is there another Erin out there who has a story blog and/or who has written about selkies? If so, I would like to meet this doppleganger.

The person who searched for “erin ‘the wall’ hypersonic tales” only spent 14 seconds on the site, and I know good and well that person was searching for me. But maybe they didn’t want the blog, but wanted to look at the actual story on hypersonic tales?

Last, but not least, someone came to my blog as a result of the search “summerlyn’s dream.” I really wonder what they meant by that. I assume they were not referring to my baby girl. It’s amazing how many Summerlyn’s I’ve heard about since we chose that name for our daughter. We thought it was so unique — the person we heard about it from spelled it Summerlan, and we used a different spelling. But, since July, I’ve had at least two other people tell me they know someone named Summerlyn (one a little girl born two weeks after ours). I would be interested to know what Summerlyn this searcher was looking for when they wound up on this blog.

Well, there’s not really a conclusion to this rambling post. I’m about out of blogging time for today, so I’d better end this. Maybe some day I will think of a way to use these search results to the benefit of my blog, but, with the exception of blogging about big pop culture items, I can’t see how at the moment (and I don’t want to blog about pop culture as an angle… I only want to do it if I’m moved to).

I guess the biggest moral of the search results story is that, 9 times out of 10 (or even more often than that), they don’t really matter. The searchers don’t spend any time here anyway, because, no matter how relevant the term, it wasn’t what they actually wanted to read about anyway.

Happy searching and blogging everyone! :-)

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A Few Stories for You

I haven’t had a lot of time for reading short fiction lately, a fact which makes me sad. Hopefully, things will calm down at work soon (the fall is our busiest season), and I can get caught up on Every Day Fiction and all the other great ‘zines out there.

However, I have managed to read a few stories every once in a while, so here are a few links that I think y’all might be interested in.

First off, my writing group mate, Alex, has a story out in Big Pulp. It’s called “Big in Ak-Sar-Ben,” It’s a fun flash piece — a bit steam punk, a bit superhero. I love the professor main character, and how brains over brawn save the day.

Second, K.C. Ball had a story in EDF earlier this month called “Canticles.” It’s a ton of action packed into the flash fiction format. And, if you want more stories, you can always check out K.C.’s speculative flash fiction e-zine, 10Flash.

Finally, also at EDF this month, check out “Grown from Man to Dragon” by Megan Arkenberg. I love Megan’s fantasy stories, and this is no exception. She knows how to pack a lot of world into a small word count. And, for more stories, you can check out Megan’s fantasy e-zine, Mirror Dance.

Happy reading!

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A New Website for Residential Aliens

Residential Aliens, a great e-zine, has revamped its look and come out with a new website. I really like the upgrade. If you have a chance, go check it out here. And, while you’re there, you can read some good speculative fiction.

If you like prowling archives, once you’re there, you’ll find my flash piece, “The Sorcerer’s Wife,” as it made the transition to the new site.

Enjoy, folks!

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Flash Fiction Blog Posts

A post I originally published on this blog has been accepted as a 2-part blog entry over at EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles. You can read it here and here. And while you’re there, stick around and read some of the other entries. There is some good stuff over there.

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Tidbits

First of all, I’m excited to report that my story, “The Wall,” will appear in the September 2009 issue of Hypersonic Tales. This publication provides readers flash fiction in both text and audio formats. I’m excited, as this will be my first audio publication.

Second, go check out EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles. There is a new article up about writing communities for flash fiction authors written by Alex, and if you scroll down a little further, you’ll see the details for an interesting writing contest — the FFC String-of-10 Contest.

Oh, and this is a little belated, but nominations are open for EDF’s 2008 anthology. Stories published between September 2008 and August 2009 can be nominated. If you’d like to nominate a story (and I’ve had several good ones in, such as “A Million Faces” and “The Care and Feeding of Your Sleeping Knight” — look at my stories page for links), go here.

Finally, a couple of story links for your perusal (I don’t think I’ve linked these here yet) — “Love, Death and Doughnut Holes” by Stephanie and “Tears of Clobbersaurus” by Jens.

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Story Time Linkfest

It’s a new day, so you must be looking for more short fiction to read, right?

First off, a little anticipation. Every Day Fiction recently released it’s table of contents for July, and I’m very excited by the story that will be appearing on July 12th — “The Only Thing Left to Do” by my friend J.P. Tioga. I critted this piece for her, and it’s a great bit of flash. I know you’ll all enjoy it!

While I was at EDF this morning, I read today’s story of the day, “Recipe.” It’s an interesting sci-fi piece. I like stories that show the fantastic and speculative as a mundane, daily event. But the kicker for me with this story was that the main character was deaf. What some might call his disability, turns out to be exactly what he needed in this sci-fi situation. There isn’t enough short fiction out there exploring such different points of view.

When perusing the blog-0-sphere, I discovered that writing group mate, Stephanie, has a new story out. It’s called “Misty,” it’s live at M-Brane SF. It looks like you have to purchase or subscribe to read this one in electronic format. “Misty” is another story that I helped critique during the writing process, and it’s an interesting and quirky take on a sci-fi idea that you might have seen done before, but never like this.

Finally, I had the chance yesterday afternoon to read more of 10Flash’s inaugural issue. I haven’t been able to read all the stories as of yet, but I did get to some of them, and it really is a great issue. Some of the stories that I really enjoyed (in addition to Alex and Gay’s that I linked yesterday) were “A Small Dark Room” by Jordan Lapp, “The Dangers of Kafka in Cairo” by Megan Arkenberg, and “In the Basement” by D.J. Barber.

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The Last Ball at Concord House

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of craziness, made up mostly of home improvement projects (specifically, getting everything ready for new carpet to be laid in the nursery and the master bedroom).

With all that home improvement going on, publication of the inaugural issue of 10Flash totally snuck up on me! But, it is live today, and everyone should go check it out. What are you waiting for? Do it now!

K.C. has done a great job compiling an awesome line-up of stories for the first issue based on the theme of a librarian on vacation in a foreign land. If you have time, you should check out all 11 of the stories in this issue (they are all flash — it won’t take you that much time!), but if you don’t have time to read them all, I do want to point out to you “Four Liars” by my writing group mate, Alex, and “The Scorpion-Charmer’s Daughter” by Gay Degani, a regular commenter on this blog.

My story in this issue is called “The Last Ball at Concord House.” When K.C. invited me to submit a story for this issue, I wasn’t sure what tack to take on the librarian theme. I really wanted to write a story about Sarah Kirby, the main character from “The Widow and the Stranger,” as she seemed like just the type of woman this theme was meant to embrace. Howeer, Sarah is a shopkeeper on vacation, not a librarian, so I nixed that idea.

Then my writing group had its monthly prompts contest, and one of the prompts was to write a story about the belle of the ball who had a secret. I got this image of a librarian crashing a high society ball while trying to conceal the fact that she is a mere librarian, and suddenly, I was off a running on “The Last Ball at Concord House.”

Of course, the story needed an element of the fantastic, as well, so I mixed in a little of one of my favorite supernatural elements (the one that gives me the most cold chills), and the story came together (with a little post-first-draft help from my writing group).

If you read tLBaCH, I’d love to know what you think of it. You can leave a comment here on this blog, or you can leave a comment over at 10Flash.

Again, congrats to K.C. for putting together a really great first issue, and congrats to all the contributing authors. I haven’t had time to read all of them yet, but I can’t wait to do so!

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Flash Fiction Blog Post

This is a little belated, but last week one of my archived posts from this blog was reprinted over at EDF’s Flash Fiction Blog. It’s called “Excuses, Excuses,” and originally appeared here last July. Head on over and take a look. And, while you’re there, read some of the other recent blog entries. Jordan wrote an interesting one on dialog-only stories, K.C. contributed one about common story ideas, and there are quite a few other interesting reads, as well. This is a very informational and helpful blog if you write fiction — flash or otherwise.

Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. in the blog-o-sphere lately. The craziness keeps increasing. I guess it will be that way until the baby makes her appearance (estimated at the end of August). My husband and I have been/will be booked every weekend between Memorial Day and the end of June! Trips home, attending weddings (3 in June!), helping my sister move (well, he did that last weekend — I supervised and fetched lunch!), and baby showers. It’s all fun and/or important stuff, but leaves little time on the weekends for writing or blogging. Add to that a huge slew of projects at work that have to get done before I go on maternity leave and all the house projects we want to complete before the baby comes (finishing the nursery paint job, new carpet in the nursery, putting together baby furniture), and I’m definitely feeling the pressure.

However, I am looking forward to my writing group’s write-in this week. Those are always fun, and I know I’ll have at least a couple of hours that I can devote only to writing. It will be a nice change of pace from the hectic day-to-day.

I hope everyone else is having a less hectic time than I am, and that you all have ample time to pound away on those works in progress! Happy writing, everyone!

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