Writing

Workshop schedule for the next 6 months, with Early Bird discounts if you sign up now

We’re half-way through our first week in my flash fiction workshop, and it’s going so well. I’m spending a lot of time on lessons, suggestions, and critiques, but it’s worth it to see reactions like these from my students:

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Don’t you wish you were taking it with us?

By request, I’ve updated my workshop schedule for the next six months. I’ll be offering three courses:

January 2015

“Editing 101″ – Definitions, editing marks, using (and creating) style sheets, important style manuals, levels of editing, and fact-checking. The basics of copyediting: concepts and skills necessary for line editing (also called copyediting), relying mainly on the Chicago Manual of Style,16th ed; editing vs. proofreading; tips for spotting tricky errors. The basics of developmental editing: what it is and isn’t, including the specifics of developmental editing in fiction. We’ll also cover rates, and working with clients, including querying about edits, maintaining an author’s voice, and related services. (Read more here.)

$75 for 4 weeks if you enroll by 11/30/2014: Sign up here (limited class size — already 1/3 full)

March 2015

“Plotting the Short Story” – By request! We’ll cover how to fit a whole story into different lengths: flash (1000 and under), mid-length short story (about 4000 words), and longer short stories (up to 6500 words). What do you put in and what do you leave off the page? Fundamentals of storytelling, prepping (including outlining, character arcs, and plot twists) and editing (including how to recognize the different moments of your story so you can move them around) are also covered.

$50 for 4 weeks if you enroll by December 31, 2014: Sign up here (already 1/5 full)

April 2015

“Nuts and Bolts of Submitting” – market directories and submission trackers, finding the RIGHT market, reading submission guidelines, meeting submission guidelines, when to query, how to write bios and cover letters, how to read rejections, and figuring out when to resubmit, revise, or trunk your work.

$50 for 4 weeks if you enroll by January 31, 2015: Sign up here

#SFWAPro

It’s true! Writing very short fiction can improve your novel.

I’ve had great success teaching flash fiction, and my students have gone on to be more widely published, and better writers. But I often hear from people who say something like:

“Oh, that sounds cool, but I don’t write short stories. I mostly write novels.”

Fear not, friend. Flash fiction is for you, too.

Writers Digest suggests learning to write flash because “no matter what you write, stringent word limits can challenge and sharpen your skills in ways that can improve even your long-form work.” Writing great flash requires the same skills as writing a great novel: descriptions that show instead of tell, concise language, poetic (compact yet evocative) style, and clear vision.

Microfiction (work that begins, ends, and feels complete under 1000 words) isn’t a fragment of a story. It’s not a scene without an anchor in the rest of the tale. It is its own moment. That kind of writing focuses on using the best words to speak clearly to your reader, giving them the impression of something larger than that space allows, so they don’t walk away unsatisfied. You want to give enough information so that the rest of the story, the history and potential future, are hinted at, but the reader doesn’t need to see them spelled out in order to have enjoyed what they read. If you can do that with a handful of words, you can do that with a hundred thousand. Even better – you can take away all the bits you don’t need before they get in the way of the words you want, confusing or even boring your reader.

Writing and reading short fiction show you successful ways to tell a story with the excess stripped away. I’ll help you learn the two major approaches to handling the challenging word count: how to write into the space that you have, and how to edit down to your limitations. Applying the lessons from my workshop to your novel will help you cut the fluff from your pages, turning your epic into a lean, thrilling, can’t-put-it-down adventure for your readers. Who doesn’t want that?

Keep an eye out for my next flash fiction workshop! I’ll post my teaching schedule here.

#SFWAPro

New workshop begins Nov 15, 2014: Better Writing Through Brevity

Update 11/13/14: 23 students enrolled; only 2 spots left

Beginning November 15, 2014 – “Better Writing Through Brevity: Writing/Editing Microfiction and Flash” – read, write, critique, and edit short fiction of various lengths, including 140 characters, 1 sentence, 150 words, six sentences, under 500 words, under 1000. Previous students of this class have sold their final pieces to semi- and pro-rate SFF markets.

$60 for 4 weeks:

Sign up here

I will close registration for this workshop when we reach 25 students, to limit the group to a manageable size. If there are still spaces left on November 8, the price will go up to $75. And, yes, you can purchase a registration for a friend. Simply enter their email address on the signup screen when it asks.

When I did this workshop last year, it was a lot of fun! Many of those students are still supporting (and critiquing) each other today.

Please note: All workshops take place in my private online forum, so you can post questions, comments, and writing excerpts without worrying who will see it. Plus, since we have deadlines of a certain day, not a set class hour, you can be anywhere in the world and still participate! With everything online, you won’t miss a thing, no matter what time zone you’re in or what challenges you’re working around.

Wondering how this workshop will improve your novel? Read this.

How does the class work?

A week before the class begins, students will get an email instructing them how to log into the private online forum. Only people in the class will have access to the workshop space. (This means anything posted there is considered “unpublished” and if you like it when it’s polished, you still have the option to submit it for publication.) Anyone who logs in during that pre-class week will be able to start reading the samples in advance. (more…)

Free Fiction: “While Waiting For Your Landlord To Evict You” (Experimental/Literary)

This story is a little different than my other work. It’s creative non-fiction, in that it’s true, but written well (I hope). It covers the first six months of this year — I wrote it before the situation got even worse with the CO/gas leaks a few weeks ago, but I think it’s strong enough that I don’t need to add to it. It’s 2nd person PoV, 3200 words long, and isn’t published anywhere else.

An excerpt:

As the month ticks down, you should lay out all of your options for moving so that you can clearly see you don’t have any.

Find the information for the storage place nearby, the one with cheap little units that hold a single room’s worth of stuff, because you can’t afford bigger and you can probably get your belongings down to that size. While your son is at camp, or school, or asleep – anything, as long as he doesn’t see what’s going on and get spooked – start packing up what you know you want to keep. If he does figure it out, tell him you’re organizing, that the apartment is too little for even the meager amount of things that you own, that you’re a minimalist at heart, anyway.

Give silent thanks each day that he doesn’t ask.

Get the PDF here

Seven Bits of a WIP

Various people tagged me in a meme that’s going around about finding the seventh page in the seventh book that you wrote for the seventh brother on your wedding day, or something like that. Rather than tag a bunch of others to do the same — because I am nothing if not an enabler of you keeping things to yourself — I’m posting seven sentences from one of my novels-in-progress here, no strings attached:

Determined not to be the first casualty, caught unawares by a child in a bloodstained nightgown waiting silently for her wake up so it could feed, she focused on the enemy Romero gave her. She packed watertight plastic containers with dried food, wooden matches, camping gear, medical supplies, and knives (in assorted sizes). She refused to live on the first floor, since a second-story apartment was more defensible. And she kept her doors locked when she was home, even when she was awake, so nothing could sneak in.

Years of paranoia and preparation, and in the end, none of it mattered. It was all made useless by the sudden realization that the something lurking in the darkness wasn’t foreshadowing a future apocalypse. They were only ghosts.

What a fucking waste of time.

This is from my urban gothic (aka “No, she should not have a tramp stamp on the cover god dammit”) novel, tentatively titled “Shades of Grey” because my sense of humor demanded I use this until the book is done enough to tell me its real title.

If you do decide to post your excerpts as well, and want me to see it, leave it in the comments and I’ll take a look.