Friday Check-in – Week 8: Walter White Sighting

[Writing this post a little early on a Friday (like 2 AM early) because I’m heading out of internet access for the next day and a half or so.]

This week, I was sent a copy of The Albion Reviewa national undergraduate lit journal that I submitted a short story to in October of 2014. I got my acceptance in April, 2015, and the arrival of my copy revealed that I my story, “Unapologetic,” actually won their short fiction contest. Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now…But really, I’m pleased, especially because the short story in question is in the contemporary genre, which I hardly ever write in. At the time I submitted it, thought I’d be satisfied if it got in anywhere. Now? I may cruise for reprint venues… So yeah, that’s up on my Fiction page, though it’s not currently available online.IMG_20160224_094242

Marooning myself at a coffee shop last week was so good for my productivity, I did it again this Wednesday. I drank a vat of tea for $3, laughed about it containing Stevia so soon after I binge-watched Breaking Bad, then thrilled and rejoiced in the little coincidences of life when this guy sat down next to me, looking just similar enough to Walter White to make it all worthwhile.

Green Star Reads for this week:

Finished REBEL MECHANICS, by Shanna Swendson. I feel like I’d have liked this more if it were developed more, deepened, if it took more time to weave together the world…As it is, I liked the potential of some elements, and my ship sailed, so like, that was good. But…?

I’m still figuring out my feelings on FEED, by M. T. Anderson. Understand, cover summary mentioned “fighting the feed,” and I went in thinking UGLIES, etc. Came out more reminded of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (except it’s really, really not like TFioS)… I… It was really interesting, and I was riveted, and I think this one is going to take me a long time to fully process.

Another one I tore through was WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, by Kat Zhang. So long overdue. I’ve had an ARC of the sequel for ages, I met Zhang at Ch1Con last year, and I think I wanted to like it so bad that I was scared of it for a while… I’m happy to say that I loved it. I’m excited to read the sequel, and hopefully get deeper into the characters, and the different personas, and the world of the novel at large.

I’m chipping away at REVISION & SELF-EDITING: TECHNIQUES FOR TRANSFORMING YOUR FIRST DRAFT INTO A FINISHED NOVEL, by James Scott Bell, a few pages at a time.

I still have a tower of library books from last week, but I’m dropping them all for the moment because A GATHERING OF SHADOWS came out this week, by Victoria Schwab (one of my all-time favorite authors). Everyone should buy it, right now. To tide me over, I’m reading one of Victoria Schwab’s first books, THE NEAR WITCH, which came in the mail a few days ago, exactly as I’d planned. Find an epic coat, read a Schwab book, any Schwab book–but also go buy AGoS.

  • Soundtrack of the Week: Badass villain playlist continues to suit my needs. I also just listened to “Monsters” by Mree for several hours tonight.
  • Go-to method of procrastination: League. Office. Ansatsu Kyoushitsu. Coaxing my zombie phone back to life because I somehow have to make it until contract runs out this November.

Sticker Check-in

Week 8

CURRENT KEY

  1. Red – 1/2 hr revision (WEEK TOTAL:  3 hr)
  2. Blue – draft 500 new words (WEEK TOTAL: 11,500 words)
  3. Green – read 100 pages (WEEK TOTAL: 800 pages)
  4. Gold – 1/2 hr studying Japanese (WEEK TOTAL:  4 hrs)
  5. Silver – blog post (WEEK TOTAL: 1)
  6. NOT PICTURED – I’m tracking exercise and adult-like responsibilities in a separate baby-sized calendar also courtesy of Easter Seals.(WEEK TOTAL FOR EXERCISE: 1 time).
  7. TOTAL STICKERS: 47

Points of Note:

  • Still overlapping red and blue stars for overlapped revision and drafting new words.
  • The drafting stickers on the 20th and 21st are from rewriting a short story I worked on back in school, which was runner-up in my district for the Scholastic young writer’s awards thing, but I knew was never quite right. This new draft looks so different, coming at the concept from a completely different angle, but I have a lot more hope for the result.
  • Tracking total stars per week was a good idea, I think, because I just realized I have two more total stars than last week, even though I got less done during this weeks Productivity Jail. Again, that’s from the new short story draft I poured out, but it’s nice to see.

One of those last drafting stars was for the senior profile I had to write for my college’s English Department newsletter. As I was jotting things down–about working on my campus lit mag, about spending time in Greece and Chicago, about finishing novel drafts, getting minor success for a few short stories, and being eligible for a freaking Campbell award–it occurred to me that a lot has happened during my college career. It’s been a good four years. And since the internet (specifically the writing community) has been a big part of those four years, I owe you guys a thank you.

So, thanks for reading, and thanks for being awesome, Internet.

Allison

Friday Check-in, Week 7: Productivity Jail

IMG_20160218_075007Behold. This is the face of an introvert who has just marooned themselves in public, alone, for the next ten hours.

At my own request, my sister dropped me off at a coffee shop on her way to student-teaching, with one last, “You’re sure” and one additional, “Text me in the afternoon to make sure I don’t forget about you.”

With half a day working on #FairyPrisonBook in said coffee shop, and the other half ensconced in library bliss, what followed was the most productive square on my calendar thus far.

But before I get to that, here’s what I’ve been reading:

Green Star Reads for this week:

Finished AFTERWORLDS, by Scott Westerfeld. Really enjoyed it, especially from a writing standpoint and seeing how things in Darcy’s life affected her novel. I’m not sure I was quite as deeply swept up as with some of Westerfeld’s other books, but only because I was reading it from that perspective, more analytically? Soooo good.

Then during my productivity incarceration in the library, I stumbled onto THE MANUAL OF AERONAUTICS: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO THE LEVIATHAN SERIES, by Westerfeld, and zipped through that. I’d thought about purchasing it in the past, but after reading it…I’m at peace with not getting it? It’s nice, and the illustrations are gorgeous at ever, but it felt like I’d already seen most of the information in the Leviathan series itself, an

cup of joe
Such a terrible prison. So. Terrible.

d there wasn’t that sheen of “EXTRA” on this companion guide. It was also a lot shorter than I expected.

Also in the library, I [finally] finished an ARC I’ve had for literal years, of MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1), by Caroline Carlson. It was so much fun, and reminded me in some ways of THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR
KINGDOM
, though my main surprise was how many elements this book coincidentally had in common with the novel I wrote for my Honor’s Research project: talking gargoyles, a governess-type character, a land physically running out of magic… My working theory is that I somehow picked up these elements through osmosis as this poor, neglected ARC sat on my shelf, untouched…The end products are very different though, so no worries.

I’m about half through REBEL MECHANICS, by Shanna Swendson, and though a few things have felt kind of tell-y, I’m interested enough to keep reading.

And, last, I’m slowly working through REVISION & SELF-EDITING: TECHNIQUES FOR TRANSFORMING YOUR FIRST DRAFT INTO A FINISHED NOVEL, by James Scott Bell. Sixty pages in, it’s already helped spark a few ideas for how I want to tweak #FairyPrisonBook, and I’m hoping to buff up my revision skills a lot.

  • Soundtrack of the Week: I think it was this week that–in a fit of crankiness–I soothed my angry soul by building a playlist of songs for when a badass villain wins. Evil queens on thrones carved from bone. Sing-song taunts leveled at foolish heroes. Murderers with panache. Currently this playlist is 15 hours long.
  • Go-to method of procrastination: League. The Office. And introducing a friend to Ansatsu Kyoushitsu by marathoning the first third of season 1 until 4 AM last night.

Sticker Check-in

week 7
Guess which day was my productivity jail

CURRENT KEY

  1. Red – 1/2 hr revision (WEEK TOTAL:  6 hr)
  2. Blue – draft 500 new words (WEEK TOTAL: 5,000 words)
  3. Green – read 100 pages (WEEK TOTAL: 1,000 pages)
  4. Gold – 1/2 hr studying Japanese (WEEK TOTAL:  5 & 1/2 hrs)
  5. Silver – blog post (WEEK TOTAL: 2)
  6. NOT PICTURED – I’m tracking exercise and adult-like responsibilities in a separate baby-sized calendar also courtesy of Easter Seals.(WEEK TOTAL FOR EXERCISE: 3 times, also cooked twice).
  7. TOTAL STICKERS: 45

Points of Note:

  • Experimenting w/ how to track time spent revising when those revisions involve a lot of new drafted words. For the moment (and because it amuses me) I’m overlapping red and blue stars. Someday, these tracking methods will be more consistent. But this is not that day.
  • For the first time in this particular blog’s history, I wrote two posts in a week. The second was this Eligibility Post about the Campbell award for Best New Writer, and my impostor syndrome about even the remote possibility of me being nominated.
  • I literally just decided this, but it might be good to track how many stickers total I get from week to week, just as another way to see when I rock and when I…really don’t.

In summary, this felt like a great week! I may make the Productivity Jail a semi-regular occurrence (like, once a week?) so look forward to that. Also, if you’ve got any suggestions for my Villain playlist, share them in the comments! It’s the perfect remedy for a bad mood…or will at least help you own it.

Thanks for reading,

Allison

 

Eligibility Post 2016

So, I did not plan to write one of these eligibility posts at all. Mainly because it would not have been a long post. I made one professional sale this year. My first professional sale, and it stands all alone…quietly…maybe hiding under beds and closets like the tooth fairies within it, I don’t know.

Impostor syndrome is hitting hard at the moment, even though the results of my story’s publication feel too minor to have faked my way into.

My short story, “Decay” was published in the penultimate issue of Crossed Genres magazine, along with a New Author Spotlight interview. And technically, that makes me eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

This is not the same thing as me having any shot at all of winning that award. I know several other eligible authors who I’m in awe of, who seem so far out of my league, who have done so much already with so many more good things ahead of them…

My creepy little story doesn’t feel like it should put me in the same category, by any means.

So why am I writing one of these posts after all? Well, apparently, anthologies of Campbell-eligible authors seem slightly less intimidating than actually shooting for an official Campbell Award. The announcement popped up on my Twitter feed. And if I can get reprint permission from Crossed Genres in time, I’d like to submit to it. “The intent is to familiarize voters and readers with new writers in the SFF field,” and, funnily enough, that’s kind of me. If a few more people read my creepy tooth fairy story…It feels like it would be worth it.

It took me a long time to do the minimal Googling necessary to figure out if I was eligible, just because I was so sure I wasn’t. I made my first professional sale, but it must not count, right? How could it count? I made an exciting amount of cash. I saw my name in print. I got my first review (a positive one, even). Before that, I had fun answering interview questions, and got to feel the dim amusement of proofreading with a scraped cornea that was meant to keep me from reading at all (no, I don’t know how it happened either, but it kept me humble, cropping up the day after my acceptance). I loved the whole experience, I was so excited, but surely that didn’t…mean anything, right?

Seeing the anthology announcement today was almost the first time I had a flicker of, “Wait…no. This counts.”

I have no shot of winning, really, and I’m fine with that. Like I said, I can think of a lot of people who really deserve the award, and I am rooting for them with everything in me.

But…”Decay” does count. And I can be proud of that–of my first sale, even if it winds up the piece I like the least long-term, the one lost among dust bunnies under my bed. This story might never break out into the open, but I don’t have to be the one shoving it back into the dark.

And if this story happens to make me eligible for an award, I should maybe, sort of…make that known? At least once?

So, this is me, making it known.

My name is Allison Mulder. I got a short story published this year, no matter how many times I forget that, and no matter how hard it is to believe I deserve it.

And even though the odds are astronomically against me even getting nominated…

I’m eligible for a Campbell Award.

Friday Check-in: Week 6

 

This week was full of graphic novels and some pretty atypical novel formats. I also did some spontaneous drafting and a speck of revision on #FairyPrisonBook.

But mostly I read a lot of graphic novels.

Green Star Reads for this week:

I finished VIOLENT ENDS, by Shaun David Hutchinson and a bunch of other people, and found it interesting. I’m a fan of diving into lots of different viewpoints around one event, so it was cool to see that playing out, not just from the perspective of different characters, but from different authors as well.

I tore through THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE, by Patrick Ness, and loved it as much as I’d suspected I would. Not just because I figured out the cover glows in the dark, either. It was great seeing a story worked around what would normally be the background characters, and the Chosen One’s story outlined in the chapter titles made me giggle so hard I wound up explaining the whole book’s premise to my very confused mother. I like seeing how Ness experiments with things… Back in high school, I really loved KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, too. Now I really want to go find the sequels I never quite got to.

After finishing one book with two stories in one, it seemed like the perfect time to [finally] start AFTERWORLDS by one of my favorite authors, Scott Westerfeld. It’s been on my TBR shelf for far too long… Plus I’m all out of library books to distract me from the ones I own. Really excited to see how these two novels in one (a writer and her NaNo novel) play out.

When I say I whipped through a bunch of graphic novels this week, what I mean is: the second and third volumes of SOULLESS: THE MANGA, by Gail Carriger (fun and shippy, really enjoyed them, curious how it comes off in prose, especially re. world-building…and my ships), BAD ISLAND, by Doug TenNapel (fine, quick read, not as riveted as I was with other things), and the first four volumes of SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (when I described them to a friend: “These are vulgar and I’m enjoying them a lot”). I’m still figuring out a system for tracking graphic novels, fiddling with halves and guesstimates, but a more thorough breakdown of the page numbers is in the Sticker Tracking part of this post.

I also read for the textbook for my online class.

  • Soundtrack of the Week: My random playlists of Japanese music. Plus remixed versions of Undertale music that my little brother linked me to.
  • Go-to method of procrastination: Still playing League of Legends with K.T. Simpson and friends. Also, I started The Office on a whim, and I’m not even sure how I feel about it other than loving Jim and Pam and missing my time in Chicago (which was not like The Office, but it was…er…in an office). But Netflix is fine because I can practice dabbling in Japanese while watching things. Mostly.

Sticker Check-in

Week 6

CURRENT KEY

  1. Red – 1/2 hr revision (WEEK TOTAL:  1 hr)
  2. Blue – draft 500 new words (WEEK TOTAL: 2,500 words)
  3. Green – read 100 pages (WEEK TOTAL: 1400 pages – including graphic novels. Breakdown below)
  4. Gold – 1/2 hr studying Japanese (WEEK TOTAL:  7 hrs)
  5. Silver – blog post (WEEK TOTAL: 1)
  6. NOT PICTURED – I’m tracking exercise and adult-like responsibilities in a separate baby-sized calendar also courtesy of Easter Seals.(WEEK TOTAL FOR EXERCISE: 2 times).

Points of Note:

  • I drafted some new words this week, which was unplanned and not strictly necessary. I should be revising. But today I had a flash of inspiration on ways to rewrite an odd ghost story that I’d been content with, but couldn’t quite lay to rest (ha). I also wrote 1k of something random for an anthology I thought about submitting to, until that thousand words was lost to the void after a tragic blue screen error… So. Yeah. Not sure I’ll even attempt to redo those.
  • Like I said in the Green Star Reads section, this week involved a lot of graphic novels, which skews my count by a lot. The star stickers add up to about 1400 pages, which is a very rough estimate, halving the graphic novel page counts so it doesn’t feel like I’m cheating. The actual numbers should be more like 1,970 overall (give or take some from last week). 1,296 graphic novel pages / 2 = 648 + 828 normal book pages = 1,476.
  • If those feeble attempts at math weren’t enough for you, my total reading goal this year is 60 books. I’ve currently got two totals on my reading spreadsheet. The cheat number: 21 so far, and the actual, sans-graphic novels number: 11. So, I have 49 books to go unless I get discouraged and decide to count graphic novels after all, in which case I only need 39.

 

I still need to get back into revision more, and to a lesser extent drafting, but this week was a lot more productive than some of the weeks before… I’m curious how other people track reading graphic novels, if they do so at all. If you’ve got a suggestion, leave it in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Allison

Friday Check-in: Week 5

Trying something new this week, leading with what we all really care about: Books. I’ll wrap up my sticker-count for the week at the end, but feel free to skip it.

I’ve liked just putting down a few lines about what I’m in the process of reading, and what I’ve just finished. It’s pretty informal, but that’s kind of what I like about it. Part of why I don’t post more full-length reviews is that I psyche myself out and wind up retreating before I ever hit post, because what if I’m–gasp–wrong about a book? Don’t have that problem as strongly if I’m just tossing off a few lines here and there. Feel free to ask follow-up question (or fangirl) in the comments, or @ me on Twitter.

Green Star Reads for this week:

Besides the textbook for my online class, I read THE GREAT GREENE HEIST, by Varian Johnson, which I keep thinking of as a cross between Holly Black’s Curseworkers series and the show Fillmore! Middle school con artists, doing their thing. Really fun, really enjoyed it.

I finished SERPENTINE, by Cindy Pon, ending with about the same feelings I had in last week’s post. Just didn’t enjoy as much as I wanted to, for reasons I still can’t quite put my finger on. Chalk it up to stylistic differences?

I also started VIOLENT ENDS, which is a very different book than I assumed when I heard about it at Anderson’s YA Lit Con in Chicago. I thought it was just an anthology of horror stories involving…well, violent ends. It’s actually a novel about many different characters connected in some way to a school shooting, with each chapter written by a different author. Names involved include Courtney Summers, Neal Shusterman, Beth Revis, Hannah Moskowitz… There’s a lot of writers involved, resulting in an interesting mix.

 

  • Livetweet Sessions – There’s a new page where I’ve started using Storify to gather my plethora of tweets about whatever show I’m watching. If you enjoy snark, shipping, and ill-advised puns, that’s probably a good place to find some. Right now it mostly contains tweets about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries–and if you’re not watching that show, why not? For a quick taste, check out my tweets from the first six episodes.
  • Soundtrack of the Week: The same three anime openings I was listening to last week, with a dash of the Breaking Bad soundtrack.
  • Go-to method of procrastination: As you might have guessed from the above, Breaking Bad… I’m sure all the relevant addiction jokes have already been made. My best friend and critique partner, K.T. Simpson, has also lured me into playing League of Legends with her. The results have been…mixed, and complicated by my complete lack of skill. Other than that, Miss Fisher’s, anime, manga. You know the drill. It may or may not have been a heavy procrastination week.

Sticker Check-in

week 5
January 2016
Week 5 - 2 cropped
First Week of February

CURRENT KEY

  1. Red – 1/2 hr revision (WEEK TOTAL:  1 hr)
  2. Blue – draft 500 new words (WEEK TOTAL: 500 words)
  3. Green – read 100 pages (WEEK TOTAL: 400 pages)
  4. Gold – 1/2 hr studying Japanese (WEEK TOTAL:  6 hrs)
  5. Silver – blog post (WEEK TOTAL: 1)
  6. NOT PICTURED – I’m tracking exercise and adult-like responsibilities in a separate baby-sized calendar also courtesy of Easter Seals.(WEEK TOTAL FOR EXERCISE: 1 time, which I’d be more guilty about if a giant blizzard hadn’t wiped out my workout group).

Points of Note:

  • I switched the colors of revision and Japanese practice, in an attempt to even out my sticker usage. Hunting through ten sticker sheets for red ones has quickly lost its charm.
  • I also decided to log revision by half hours, so that I can’t opt out of it every time I don’t have a full hour to spare. Hopefully this mental trick will help me get my butt in gear.

All in all, productivity really dwindled near the end of the month, following the pattern of New Year’s Resolutions everywhere. February will be better. I hope.

Point of Pride: I have managed to put out a post every week for a month, which is something I haven’t done in ages, if ever.

Thanks for reading,

Allison