Update #1: We have a title

The response to the upcoming cancer anthology has been overwhelmingly positive and wonderful. Thank you all so very much.

I have news. Big news. Exciting news. We have a name! Yay!

The anthology is going to be titled Metastasis

Because we chose a name that was not one of the ones suggested on the Wolfsinger Publications facebook page, Carol is going to hold a draw and award a free copy of the book to a random person who suggested a title for us to chose from. We really do appreciate your suggestions and efforts to help us name this anthology. Good luck to everyone whose name is going in that draw 🙂

Right after we put out the call for submissions emails began arriving in my inbox. Some were submissions but many were from people who just wanted to share their story. To connect. I received emails from cancer survivors and from friends and family members of cancer survivors. I also heard stories about those who had lost the battle, people and pets, who were now gone. Cancer has touched almost everyone in one way or another and it seems to help in the healing process, in understanding and accepting, to share our stories.

I’ve edited Niteblade for a few years now, and this feels quite different from that. Each submission feels like it is coming from a very personal place and most are based on a loss or struggle that is very real and painful for the writer. As the editor of this anthology it’s going to be my job to say no to a lot of submissions, but I promise to give them all the respect and attention they deserve. Also? I will never use a single form letter in responding to you.

It is my intention to read and respond to submissions in small batches as they come in rather than waiting until the submission deadline has passed. It is more efficient for me and it means that if you send us something early on that isn’t quite right you still have time to re-submit if inspiration strikes again. I responded to the first batch yesterday, so if you submitted prior to January 21, 2013 you ought to have heard back from me. If you didn’t, please re-submit.

One thing I noticed while reading through the first batch of submissions is that while the quality of the writing was generally quite high, the majority of the stories and poems submitted were not speculative in nature. Not even a little. Some of those pieces were fantastic and if this were simply a cancer-themed anthology I would have taken them without question, but it’s not. Please make sure that your submissions are speculative in nature. Science fiction / fantasy. I define both genres very widely and welcome all their sub-genres. The important thing is if your story could take place in the world we live in today, and no one would blink an eye or think it odd, it’s not right for this anthology.*

If you have questions, please ask. I won’t bite. Honest.

*With the possible exception of a specifically solicited story or two.

Month of Letters & Retreating from Social Media

A Month of LettersOne of my goals for this year was to take a social media retreat for one week a month. Today is my first day back from my first retreat and I have to say, it was fabulous. I missed my friends on social media, Twitter especially, but holy crap you would not believe the difference it made in my productivity and, more importantly, my focus.

I thought that I would see an increase in my productivity because I wouldn’t be spending time reading, posting and surfing social media, and I was right. What I hadn’t counted on was how much more focused that time would be. Since none of my attention or thought process was going into thinking about social media or the news from social media or anything like that, I was so focused. I’ve tried to multitask less over the past few years because I feel like I’m working harder and longer and getting less done. I’ve read the studies, I am passingly familiar with the debates about whether multitasking is good or bad for us. I don’t have any big answers but I do know that, for me, single-tasking is better. I can do more, faster and better if I focus on one thing at a time than if I have to keep shifting my attention from thing to thing. I hadn’t realised how many of my resources (emotional, creative and just straight-up attentive) were being used by social media even when I wasn’t actively on those websites. It was astounding.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Twitter and I’m not leaving it, but I expect to spend less time there than I have been. In fact, I’m thinking of expanding my social media retreat to two weeks a month. That’s right. I’d be off social media for 50% of the time. We’ll see. I’m not making any changes just yet, but it’s something I’m thinking of, for sure. If you were intrigued by my social media retreat and considered trying it for yourself I definitely recommend it.

On a pseudo-related note I am participating in A Month of Letters again this year. A Month of Letters, or LetterMo, is the brain child of Mary Robinette Kowal. In 2010 she took a month off the internet (not just social media) and invited people to write her via snail mail if they wanted. She was surprised by the number of people who did, and that inspired LetterMo. The challenge at the heart of LetterMo is this:

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

I participated in A Month of Letters last year and I found it to be extremely rewarding (blog entry about it here: A Month of Letters). In part it’s about the same thing as my social media retreats — slowing down and focusing on one thing (or person) at a time. Plus it gives me an excuse to buy pretty new paper from my favourite stationary store.

If you are doing A Month of Letters I go by the shockingly creative handle of Rhonda over there and I would welcome your friend request (though I won’t actually use the website a whole lot). Also, whether you are participating or not, if you would like for me to write you during the month of February I would be very happy to do that 🙂 Send me your snail mail address whatever way you feel comfortable with (reply here, message on the Month of Letters site or via email at rhonda@jofigure.com) and I will send you something in February. It may be as small as a postcard or as long as a multi-page letter, depending on how many addresses I receive and how talkative I’m feeling when I sit down to write, but I will mail you something. Also, while I’d like to think it goes without saying, just for the record, I will never give away or sell your address.

<3

Goals for 2013

W1S1 Year 3 GraphicEach year I like to set myself some concrete goals and share them publicly on my blog. Not only does this give me some sort of vision of what I want to accomplish over the year, it adds a feeling of accountability to help keep me motivated and on track. My goals for 2013 are:

Health

  • Lose 25lbs
  • Successfully complete the P90x program (I’m giving myself permission to swap Cardio X workouts in for Plyometric ones because I worry about my ankle and also, I’m a bit of a wussy)
  • No energy drinks
  • Significantly cut the amount of sugar in my diet. I have a complicated set of rules for this for myself, but I don’t want to bore everyone with sharing them.

School

  • Begin another course (or two) toward my degree no later than April 1st and complete it/them successfully.

Editing/Publishing

  • Sell my cancer anthology idea to a publisher.*
  • Edit the cancer anthology, making sure the end result is something I am proud of.
  • Promote the hell out of the anthology, ensuring that there actually are royalties to donate to charity.
  • Continue to pursue my sekkrit projeckt with CJD
  • Increase Niteblade’s readership and distribution
  • Begin offering Niteblade in more file formats
  • Hold a successful fundraiser for Niteblade
  • Produce a NaNoLJers anthology if sufficient interest exists

Writing

  • Participate in The Whittaker Prize
  • Successfully complete the weekly version of Write 1 Sub 1. For the ‘Write’ portion of this challenge I will count completed short stories or poems as well as individual scenes from longer works. By allowing myself to count individual scenes I will be able to work on longer works and still participate in W1S1
  • Participate in Writo De Mayo
  • NaNoWriMo and both camp NaNoWriMos are all optional
  • Finish writing poems for all the 2012 NovPad prompts
  • Actually successfully complete the AprilPad or NovPad properly, without having to make up prompts after the month has passed
  • Self-publish “Aphanasian Stories”
  • Look into the practicality of bundling and re-releasing some of my previously published short stories as ebooks
  • Follow through on my 2012 plans for my zombie poetry

Reading

  • Read at least 30 books

Misc

  • Participate in A Month of Letters
  • Do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (bonus points if I come up with a theme this year)
  • Blog at least once a week
  • Take a social media retreat for one week a month all year
  • Attend WorldCon 2012 in Texas
  • Post writing prompts/exercises in NaNoLJers on odd numbered Mondays
  • Run and participate in the writing bingo in NaNoLJers
  • Don’t forget that life is for living, not leveling

Phew! I’m kinda exhausted even just looking at that list, exhausted and excited. I’ve set up some real challenges for myself, but if I manage to pull them off imagine how fantastic a year that will be!

*I know I’ve already accomplished this goal, but I hadn’t when I started mentally composing this list and since I achieved this goal in 2013 I’m still putting it on the list. This is not me putting things on here just so I can cross them off.

 

Call for Submissions: Metastasis

Wolfsinger PublicationsI am incredibly excited to announce that I will be editing a cancer-themed anthology to be published by Wolfsinger Publications 🙂 It will be titled Metastasis.

Call for Submissions

Cancer scares us. It scares us and it intrigues us. There is so much we don’t know about it, but it’s out there, waiting to strike when we least expect it. Cancer is not all-powerful and many people beat it, but to those who don’t cancer is cruel. It doesn’t show them the kindness of a quick death but draws things out, taking their life away in slices.

Metastasis will be a fantasy/sci-fi anthology all about cancer. The stories and poetry included could feature a character with cancer, be written from the point of view of cancer, or even be by someone with cancer. That being said, those which go a step further and dig deeper will be even better.

What if cancer isn’t a disease but an attack on the human race by aliens/demons/monsters/terrorists?

What if it’s sentient?

What if people wanted to get cancer?

What if…?

Cancer is the body turning on itself. It’s uncontrolled growth. It is invisible and indiscriminate. Submissions to this anthology are encouraged to explore metaphorical approaches to this theme as well as literal ones.

Due to the nature of cancer this collection will tend toward the darker side of the speculative fiction spectrum but we don’t want the entire anthology to be gloomy and depressing so the absolute best submissions will find a way to end on a high note, find something to be optimistic about, or evoke an emotion other than (or in addition to) sadness or dread.

A portion of the proceeds from this anthology will be donated to the American Cancer Society.**

The editor for this anthology is Rhonda Parrish.

How to Submit:

Continue reading

Looking Back at 2012

Rearview -- Photo by Rhonda ParrishIt’s that time of year again, when I look back at the goals I set the year before and create new ones for the year to come. These are not resolutions, I was sorely tempted to begin and end my yearly goals in the middle of summer just to get away from the R word, but it turns out that my desire to be lazy outweighs my desire to be contrary 😉 So here we go, how did I do on reaching my 2012 goals?

For 2012 I wanted to address not just writing, but also editing and schoolwork so I broke my goals up into four categories: Health (because that affects every part of my life), School, Writing and Editing. My specific goals for 2012 were:

Health:

  • Continue to eat healthy. In my case that is a low-sodium pescatarian diet.

I’m going to call this one successful (hence the bolding ;)) though there is definitely room for debate. I eat when I’m emotional and it’s been an emotional freaking year, but overall, I’m pleased with how I’ve done, not least of all because this year I was able to recognize when I was eating for reasons other than hunger. It’s a small step, but at least it’s in the right direction.

  • No drinking energy drinks

Um, I did pretty well with this at first, and I’m not drinking them now, but there was a period when my sister and niece were staying with us and also when my mom died that I used energy drinks as a crutch to get through the day without napping. Understandable, I think, but it means I didn’t reach this goal.

  • Remember soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ (Thanks Cookie Monster)

Erm… yeah. I started out strong on this one but as I write this blog there is a Diet Dr. Pepper sitting within reach on my desk so… yeah. Goal not accomplished.

  • Workout at least five times a week

This I was good at for most of the year. I was working out six days a week and was making Danica do it with me. We did some 30 Day Shred stuff, Couch to 5k (before I screwed up my ankle. Again) and were only a couple weeks away from completing the P90x Lean program when my Mom died. It sounds like an excuse, but when she died my world sort of tipped upside down and I am still struggling to get back into the workout habit. It will definitely be on the goal list for 2013. I’m calling this goal accomplished though because I did very well.

  • Lose 40lbs

Not even close. This has been SUPER frustrating for me because I felt like I was working really hard and the scale just wasn’t moving the way it was meant to. (I say that in the past tense because I sort of fell off the ‘working hard’ wagon in November and December.)

School: I think this year is going to be more writing and editing-centric so my school goal is optional, depending on time and stress.

  • Finish one, or, if I’m feeling super energetic, two more courses toward my degree

I didn’t do any courses toward my degree in 2012. I intend to change that up for 2013.

Writing:

  • Write the first draft of Consequence

Didn’t happen. I don’t have a great excuse as to why it didn’t happen, I just got distracted.

  • Participate in the monthly version of Write 1 Sub 1. I have a habit of writing ‘cast-off’ poetry for things like this when I become overwhelmed. That’s not acceptable here. Poetry only counts if it is in a complete and publishable form that I’m proud of. Same goes for stories.

Thank gawd for W1S1. Without it my writing productivity would have been even lower than it already was. I was successful in doing the monthly version of W1S1 and I look forward to doing a modified weekly version in 2013.

  • Figure out what to do with Shadows and my zombie poetry and get to work on doing it. This can mean looking for an agent, a publisher or any number of other things. I can’t be specific until I’ve made a decision

Done and done. Shadows has been shelved for the time being. I keep having ideas on how I can improve it and feeling the temptation to pull it out and revise it again but so far I’ve resisted. I think I need to move on for now. I’ll come back to Shadows someday, but not anytime soon. As for the zombie poetry, I’ve also figured out what I’m going to do with it… I just haven’t actually got it done yet. I will definitely be including that in my goals for 2013. The zombie poetry project is stalled temporarily while I wait on something I need from someone else, but soon… soon…

  • Either finish a first draft of Hollow Children or a transcription of Twixt

Hmm… I don’t know whether or to call this accomplished or not. Technically I didn’t do either of those things so I guess it’s not accomplished, however… instead of transcribing Twixt (I wrote the first draft long hand and so needed to type it up) I started doing the How to Revise Your Novel course using it as the project I was working on. What I discovered in the process of taking that course and doing the exercises was that Twixt, as it was written, was fatally flawed so I didn’t transcribe it. I didn’t begin working on a new draft either because it wasn’t until the end of November that I figured out what exactly I’d done wrong and how to fix it. Interestingly enough, that is also true of Hollow Children. I was hopelessly stalled on it until the end of November when I had an epiphany and figured out how to fix it. So there’s that…

  • Revise the whack of ‘mostly finished’ short stories sitting in my Dropbox and start looking for homes for them

I did manage to do this… and then I participated in the Whittaker Prize (see below) and added a bunch more ‘mostly finished’ short stories to my Dropbox to work on. Wheee!

  • NaNoWriMo is optional. So is NovPad.

I participated in NaNoWriMo and was successful despite restarting several times and switching projects three times. I attempted NovPad but was far less successful. The good thing about NovPad, as my friend Beth pointed out to me is that the prompts are always there. So I’ll keep working through them. Just like I did last year (see below). Ya know, it seems I’m not really very good at this NovPad thing LoL

  • Participate in the Whittaker Prize again this year, but in only one category, not both.

I participated in the short story section of the Whittaker Prize this year and ended up placing 10th overall with a final score, after six rounds, of 453. I… don’t know how that compares to how I’ve done in previous years but I feel really good about the work I produced for the Whittakers this year. In fact, one of my stories even tied for first on one of the rounds O_o That had never happened before LOL

  • Finish writing poems for all the 2011 Novpad prompts

Done. One of these years I may actually finish writing poems for all the NovPad prompts in November. One day…

Editing:

  • Implement the new payment system for Niteblade

Done. And best of all, it seems to be working. I haven’t finished all the totals for Niteblade’s sales for 2012 but I strongly suspect that when I do we’ll find that we had our best year yet. Yay!

  • Run a fundraiser and increase promotion in order to move out of the red

Done. We raised $108.78 to help pay our writers and artist.

  • Super Sekkrit Projekt w CJD (not Niteblade-related)

I’ve done what I can on this project and it’s now in other people’s hands. I’ve got my fingers crossed that something will come of it, but right now I have to wait and see.

Also? I blogged every week. Whoot!

You know, looking back, I’m actually super impressed with myself. I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but overall I did pretty damn good. Even without factoring in all the challenges I had to overcome (because really, though this year feels like it was exceptionally bad for that, every year comes with its own set of obstacles, right?). Maybe I’m getting better at this whole goal setting thing LOL

In addition to the goals I set for myself, 2012 had a few other highlights for me as well. A few, just off the top of my head are:

I am seriously looking forward to seeing what 2013 has to offer 🙂

ETA: Edited to reflect the fact I’ve only read the first book in The Song of Ice and Fire series.