Ramblings on Writing
Reviews, Rants, and Observations on SF/F/H

I am a thirty-something speculative fiction writer. More importantly to this blog, I am a reader of science fiction, horror, and science fiction. Recently it came to my attention that there are very few places reviewing short stories in the genres that I love. I also had the epiphany that I had not been reading enough of these stories. So, an idea was born to address both of these issues.

So, starting in September 2012, this silly little blog of mine that has more or less been gathering dust will be dedicated to looking at and reviewing short form works published both in print magazines and in on-line formats.

Reviews will be posted at least once a month, hopefully more, and stories will be selected completely at my whim. However, if you have read something amazing, thought-provoking, or interesting, please feel free to drop me a recommendation.

Because a big part of the point of this exercise is to improve my own writing by looking at people doing it successfully, I will only be selecting stories to look at from professional or semi-professional markets.

Please note, however, because a big part of the point of this exercise is to improve my own writing by looking at people doing it successfully, I will only be selecting stories to look at from professional or semi-professional markets.

I intend to write honest, and hopefully interesting, reviews to let people know more about the wide variety of fantastic (both in subject and quality) stories out there. There will be no personal attacks on authors and no excoriating hatchet jobs. There is nothing to be learned from reviewing truly bad work and nothing to be gained by being mean. I will not do it and, should I be so lucky as to get readers and commentators, I would ask that they not do so either. Be respectful and everyone gets to have a more interesting conversation.

What I will do is to give my honest and reasoned reactions to stories and try to determine why or why not particular elements worked. I will try to acknowledge my personal biases and to become more open-minded about those things that are not in the realm of my personal preference.

Also, because this is my blog and I can, there may be occasional entries on my own writing process, things I find interesting, or whatever else I feel inclined to add. This may all crash and burn spectacularly, but it's going to be a heck of a lot of fun in the meantime.

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Why NANO Doesn't Work For Me

So, I decided to try National Novel Writing Month again this year. In past years, and there have only been a couple, when I tried, I failed miserably. My general word count per day just wasn't high enough and my motivation lacking.

But, I thought, this year will be different. I've already completed a novel; I know how to do this now.

Boy, was I ever delusional. Even going in with a concept (two actually) I never got the words down and when I did, I hated them. Writing became a trial, a test of endurance rather than a labor of love.

And for me, this is why NaNoWriMo doesn't work. Because it transforms my view of writing from "I want to explore this world and tell this story, so let's find the perfect words' to 'I have to hit these arbitrary benchmarks. Get the words out and worry about what it all means later.'

Now, please do not think that I am saying NaNo is bad. It's not. I know lots of writers that love it, that find it sparks brilliant ideas, breaks down writers' block, forces them to turn off internal editors that are keeping them from writing at all.

Further, it creates an incredibly supportive and interesting community of writers both locally and all around the world.

For many, many people it is a wonderfully positive thing. It just doesn't work for me. My writing process doesn't thrive under that kind of pressure, though I do like having deadlines in general. I am just not a throw it all at the wall and clean it up later kind of writer.

I ponder, plot, imagine both before I write and as I do so and this lends itself to a tremendous amount of revision that doesn't work with NaNo.

I'm also slow as sin and have this problem with doing things I 'have' to do. I start to get stubborn and put it off just because someone or something said I must and I'm going to prove them wrong.

That said, I recently got some positive feedback on my novel with notes for improvement. The changes this conversation sparked are extensive, requiring a re-imagining of the plot from the ground up. But, they will make for a much, much stronger book.

And in the week or so since that conversation I have started a revision mostly from the ground up and now have 37K words. Because I am excited and passionate and putting in eight to ten hours of writing isn't an obligation.

It's a joy.

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