Wednesday, July 28, 2021

New Stories From Old: Shrinking Stories

 Last year, I wrote a short story that was the pandemic version of a fairy tale, with theme's of women's work and community. I sent it out to a few markets, but it got rejected each time. I decided to hold on to this story until later this year, when I could submit to a special fairy-tale themed magazine issue. However, I was recently invited to submit to a hope-themes anthology that's currently in the middle of its submission period. I thought this story was a potential fit until I realized the word count limit for anthology submissions is only 3,000 words. My original story is 4,500 words, so it would need a lot of trimming to make it fit.  I also needed to change the tone of the story to better fit the theme.

I started by removing the first two scenes, which show the protagonist interacting with her husband. This put the story opening right at the critical moment of change. I also removed nearly a thousand words with this single edit, which left me with about five hundred to go. I tightened up some phrasings, removed details that no longer seemed necessary, and took out an incident that was told rather than shown. I actually managed to get the story down to about 2,100 words. Now I needed to work on the tone and the hope theme. To do this, I'm refocusing the story on the relationship between the protagonist and a friend instead of the woman and her husband. I've added more interactions between the friends,though I wasn't satisfied with the direction I'd originally planned for them and did something else. The deadline is next Monday, so I have to finish it before then.

Whether or not this new story gets accepted to the hope anthology or I submit the original one to the fairy tale issue, I think it's interesting how a writer can take the same premise-even some of the same words--and tell different tales. It might be interesting to publish them side-by-side in a collection someday.

 Have you ever had to cut a story drastically down? Did you feel it made a significant difference to the story? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Reference Shelf: Electronic vs Paper

 Every so often, I sort through my books and other belongings in an attempt to keep the household chaos under control. One section I've been ignoring for a long time are the reference books I keep on my desk. Surely a writer should keep hard copies of dictionaries, a thesaurus, and name books on hand, even though it's easy to find online versions of them. I finally decided that that I was using the online versions more than the aforementioned paper books, plus the paper versions might be out-of-date. So I finally decided to sell them at Half Price. I am keeping several grammar guides and style references, along with a book on everyday life during the Victorian era and a German-English dictionary. I have to admit I don't use these books much anymore either, though I cling to the illusion that they might be useful. In the meantime, it's nice having a little more space on the top shelf of my desks.

What do you have on your reference shelf? Do you use paper books, electronic resources, or both? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mid-Month Mysteries: Location Themes


Although my family is fully vaccinated, our schedules don't allow us much opportunity to travel this year. Perhaps we can go somewhere during my son's next Spring Break or next summer. In the meantime, books allow us to experience other destinations. It's not surprising that there are cozy mystery series devoted to travel or vacations. Goodreads has a list of such series, and this blog has pages of mysteries on this theme. I'll just briefly mention books about places I've visited.

When I was fourteen, I spent a month in Germany but had a short layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. That's why I just added R.I.P. in Reykjavik to my Want-To-Read list. Representing Germany is The Watchman of Rothenburg by Adriana Licio. 

Another place that I've been to is Washington, D.C. I spent six months performing an internship at the National Cancer Institute, but I've also been in the area as a tourist. Elliot Roosevelt has a whole series set in D.C.; the first book is appropriately called Murder and the First Lady.

Before we got married, my husband and I visited friends in Minneapolis. These two series are set in Minnesota: Curiosity Thrilled the Cat and Killer Librarian.

For our honeymoon, my husband and I took an Alaskan cruise. Sue Henry has a whole series on Alaska, starting with Murder on the Iditarod. We also spent a week in London for our first anniversary, and this site has a whole page of mysteries set in London, too many to pick out just one.

When I was pregnant with my son, I accompanied my husband to Las Vegas for a veterinarian convention/continuing education experience. This location brings Carole Nelson Douglas's Midnight Louie series to mind. Start with Cat in an Alphabet Soup

In 2009, I spent two weeks in Japan for work, not a vacation (though I did get to do some sightseeing). The Daydreamer Detective is set in a small Japanese town and is free on Amazon.

To keep this post short, I haven't included books about other places, like New York City, Texas, Arizona, or Florida. Where do you like to go on vacation? Have you read any cozy mysteries set in these locations? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

IWSG: Quitting Writing?

2021 is more than halfway done. Today might be Ringo Starr's birthday, but it's also post day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook group, or Twitter page

Our hosts for July are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise-Fundy Blue

Our question for this month is a simple yet deep one: What would make you quit writing?
I've been writing for about a quarter of a century now. I started out wanting to be traditionally published, then self-published my novels while selling a few shorter works to anthologies. It hasn't been a overwhelmingly productive or lucrative career so far, but hope springs anew with each completed story. I can fill my time with plenty of other activities if I choose, but writing fills my soul in a way other hobbies don't. My passion for writing has survived critique groups and workshops, rejections, bad writing advice, bad reviews, and being a working mother. At this point, I probably won't stop writing until I'm no longer physically or mentally able to continue. And if I should pass away while at the keyboard, I hope it's after I've completed whatever I was working on at the time.

Have you ever considered quitting writing, or have you done so for a while before being drawn back to it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


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