I am a huge fan of the Clarion and Clarion West speculative writing workshops. So this year, I decided to support Clarion West by participating in its online Write-a-thon. Write-a-thon participants set their own goals, write alongside the workshop participants for 6 weeks, and help raise funds for future workshops.
My Clarion West Write-a-thon 2021 goals:
- To add 500 words per day to my novel-in-progress (book 2 in a YA/NA romance series about high school theater) or to my notes on that novel or the series
- To read 1 short story per day
- To learn 1 new thing about the writing craft or publishing per week
Some of my daily Write-a-thon updates:
Thursday, July 22
- Reading: “Diamond Cuts” by Shaoni C. White (Uncanny Magazine)
- Writing: Added 1180 words to my novel. On a road trip with my daughter, no less!
Tuesday, July 20
- Reading: “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots)
- Writing: Added 820 words to my novel.
Monday, July 19
- Reading: “An Easy Job” by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com)
- Writing: Added 530 words to my novel. Progress!
Sunday, July 18
- Reading: “Hey Alexa” by Meg Elison (Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Victory in Defiance)
- Writing: About 600 words of notes on the next few chapters.
Thursday, July 15
- Reading: “Division by Zero” by Ted Chiang (from his collection Stories of Your Life and Others)
- Writing: Added 1180 words to my novel, plus lots of notes.
Wednesday, July 14
- Reading: “Johnny Mnemonic” by William Gibson (from his collection Burning Chrome, first published in Omni in 1981)
- Writing: Another 1200 words or so of notes on the novel I’m writing. This time, instead of cutting plot, I added something that was going to be in the next book in the series (book 3), but it fits in the current one (book 2) better; in fact, it’s necessary.
Tuesday, July 13
- Reading: “Sonata Apocalyptica” by Xan van Rooyen (Three-Lobed Burning Eye Magazine)
- Writing: About 1200 words of notes on the novel. I like having 3 escalating installments of the smaller conflicts (when it fits; there’s just something satisfying about trios). Plus, foreshadowing. Notes are great to figure these things out.
Monday, July 12
- Reading: “The Stranding” by Maud Woolf (Metaphorosis Magazine)
- Writing: Added 1410 words to my novel.
Sunday, July 11
- Reading: “Uphill Both Ways in the Snow” by Sheila Jenné (Little Blue Marble)
- Writing: Added about 1000 words to my novel. Not great, but not bad.
Saturday, July 10
- Reading: “SPF” by Justine Teu (Reckoning)
- Writing: Added a whooping (for me) 2430 words to my novel. I have two writing speeds: a trickle (often for story-related reasons) or full steam ahead. Today was definitely a full-steam-ahead kind of day!
Wednesday, July 7
- Reading: “Ornithology for Girls” by Tara Stillions Whitehead (Fractured)
- Writing: About 900 words of notes on the series I’m writing.
Tuesday, July 6
- Reading: “Russian Rhapsody” by Forrest Brazeal (Abyss & Apex)
- Writing: No words added to the novel, but about 600 words of notes on the novel and the series. So still a good writing day.
Monday, July 5
- Reading: I beta read a short story for a writer friend
- Writing: A whooping 2710 words added to my novel. The characters completely took over today, so the credit goes to them.
Friday, July 2
- Reading: “Good Hunting” By Ken Liu (Strange Horizons); read part 1 first, then part 2; also adapted into an animated film by the same title (episode 8 of the Love, Death & Robots series on Netflix)
- Writing: Added 910 words to my novel. Calling it a night.
Thursday, July 1
- Reading: “The Machine is Experiencing Uncertainty” by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor (Escape Pod)
- Writing: Added 640 words to my novel. The characters keep surprising me! Always fun. I also crossed the 28,000 word mark. Several more big, emotional events left, so it looks like this book wants to be 100k words long too, just like book 1 in the series. Fine by me. 🙂
Wednesday, June 30
- Reading: I beat read a short story for a writer friend.
- Writing: Added 630 words to my novel. More tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 29
- Reading: “Two Graves” by J.Z. Pitts (Scarlet Leaf Review)
- Writing: Added 520 words to my novel, plus some notes. I still need to figure out the exact order of events in the next few chapters. All these minor characters giving me ideas & wanting more screen time!
Monday, June 28
- Reading: “The Split” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (The Masters Review)
- Writing: About 900 words of notes on my novel. It’s a thrill when minor characters reveal their voices & personalities. On the flip side, that means more “screen time” for them & more influence on story events… A balancing act.
Friday, June 25
- Reading: “The Jellyfish” by K.A. Teryna, translated from Russian by Alex Shvartsman (Future Science Fiction Digest)
- Writing: Today I wrote about 900 words of notes on future chapters. No words added to the current chapter. Sometimes my brain resists writing in order, and since I’m a plotter working with a careful outline and aiming for a clean first draft, I’d rather jump in time. (*Revising my writing goal to allow for this in the future.)
Thursday, June 24
- Reading: “Love Engine Optimization” by Matthew Kressel (Lightspeed)
- Writing: Added 580 words to the novel, plus a bit of editing of the chapter so far (chapter 8).
Wednesday, June 23
- Reading: “A Hitchhiking Robot’s Guide to Canada” by Marie Vibbert (Flash Fiction Online)
- Writing: Added 590 words to my novel. Later at night than I planned, but I got it done.
Tuesday, June 22
- Reading: “A Ship With No Parrot” by R. J. Theodore (MetaStellar)
- Writing: About 1600 words of notes on a biotech thriller to come. So not what I should be writing. But hear me out: when my writing brain comes up with good stuff, I don’t argue. And I did come up with a chapter opening for my WIP. 🙂
Monday, June 21
- Reading: “Planned Obsolescence” by Marissa Lingen (Nature Futures)
- Writing: Added 440 words to my novel and finished the chapter, plus about 800 words of notes on later chapters. (Technically, I missed my goal, but it’s fine. Chapter openings take me a while to figure out, so I’m stopping here.)
SUNDAY, JUNE 20 – official start of WRITE-A-THON 2021
- Reading: “Father” by Ray Nayler (Asimov’s) – on the Asimov’s Readers’ Award Finalists list
- Writing: Added 1540 words to my novel. That’s 21,000 words total or about 1/5 of the book (I’m aiming for 90k-100k words). Making progress!
Friday, June 18
- Reading: “Don Queerxote” by Jennifer Lee Rossman (Hyphen Punk)
- Writing: A day off, since it’s Friday and the end of a busy week at work, and I want to think more about the next scene in my novel before I write it. 🙂
Thursday, June 17
- Reading: “All This Darkness” by Jennifer Donohue (Apex Magazine)
- Writing: Added 1100 words to my novel. (So a longer walk and no nap after work seem to do the trick. Who knew.)
Wednesday, June 16
- Reading: “Neon” by Marcus Vance (Daily Science Fiction)
- Writing: Added 730 words to my novel.
Writing & publishing resources
The Submission Grinder
The Submission Grinder is a terrific, easy to use, searchable database of short story & poetry markets as well as a submission tracker for your own submissions. Lots of useful information, like stats about market response rates and times, pay rate, recent acceptances and rejections, etc. And it’s absolutely free to use (although consider supporting them if you can, to keep the good thing going).
Writing Excuses Podcast
Writing Excuses is a fantastic, long-running podcast run by professional writers and focused on the art and craft of writing fiction, with occasional forays into publishing, marketing, and the business of fiction as well. Each episode is about 15-20 minutes long and packed with information, and you can search the extensive archives for any topic you wish. Topics include story structure, characters, plot, outlining, discovery writing, genres, worldbuilding, pacing, research, revising, and many more.
Six Figure Authors Podcast
Run by three full-time indie authors, Six Figure Authors is a great weekly podcast that “helps you take your writing career to the next level” by offering thoughtful, honest, up-to-date advice on writing, publishing, and marketing your books. New episodes drop on Thursdays, and you can peruse the archive to learn about additional topics. Two of my favorite recent episodes include: Book Marketing for Introverts; and Mistakes That Newer Authors Make.
Reading Aloud Tutorials
Mary Robinette Kowal, who is an award-winning speculative fiction writer as well as a professional puppeteer and audiobook narator, has an excellent series of blog posts called Reading Aloud with advice on doing readings and audio recordings of your fiction. Well worth the time!
Artbreeder is a creative tool for generating and manipulating images, including portraits, landscapes, album covers. It uses machine learning (specifically Generative Adversarial Networks) to allow almost endless manipulations to the images that users upload to the platform and combinations of these images. You have to open a free account to start playing with the images, and there’s a paid subscription option with additional functionality. Why would a writer use Artbreeder? Inspiration for settings and characters (e.g., you can create a character and progressively change their age).
The Creative Penn Podcast
The Creative Penn Podcast is a long-running, super informative and fun to listen podcast for writers created and run by an indie thriller writer and creative entrepreneur, Joanna Penn. Most episodes include an in-depth interview with a writer, editor, publishing or marketing professional, or subject expert, and there’s also a segment on publishing news and a segment on technology of interest to creatives. New episodes drop on Mondays, and there is a huge, searchable archive. For instance, here is a collection of episodes on dictation.
To be blunt, if you’re a fiction writer, you are in the intellectual property (specifically copyright) business. The more you know about the copyright law in your country, the more you can protect yourself and your work. How to start learning?
- Copyright Alliance has a series of blog posts Copyright Law Explained, as well as news & events, position papers on important copyright-related topics, and other resources
- The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know (currently in 13th edition) by Stephen Fishman is a solid introduction and a great reference to keep handy.
U.S. Copyright Registration
In the U.S. and many other countries, you automatically hold copyright in all your creative work providing the work meets the criteria for copyright. But there are still benefits to registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, especially since they allow Group Registration of Unpublished Works (up to 10 literary works) for a reasonable fee (right now $85). Here is a step-by-step video tutorial. By the way, you can register your work even if you write under a pen name or pseudonym.
Online Barcode Generator
This might be more of interest to indie published authors… If you use your own ISBNs, maybe because you want your company name to appear as the publisher rather than AMZ, you would purchase those from Bowker. But – good news! – you do not have to buy the barcodes that are also required on print books. There is a wonderful online tool that will generate a barcode for your ISBN absolutely free – the Free Online Barcode Generator! Use responsibly.
Contracts and Dealbreakers is a series of articles on all aspects of publishing contracts and related intellectual property (IP) licensing topics, written by a long-time speculative fiction writer, editor, and publisher Kristin Kathryn Rusch. A required reading for all writers, whether you aim to publish indie, with a small press, or with a traditional publishing house!
Publishing a book involves signing publishing contracts. As the title suggests, Book Publishing Contracts: Checklist of Deal Terms offers a handy “checklist and guide to the issues typically covered, and the terms publishers typically offer, so you can identify issues to consider and possibly address and thereby make the time spent with your lawyer or other advisor more efficient.”
3D Book Cover Mockups
Ready to create some promo materials for your book? Here is one free and easy tool: The 3D Book Cover Creator from DIY Book Design. Enjoy!