Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

March 22, 2016

That did not work

Filed under: administraviata,geekery,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 8:42 pm

Boring technical note. I just tried to export this entire blog across to its own page at davidversace.com. It didn’t work.

Or rather, it did work, perfectly – but it merged with the blog that was already there, creating what we might technically refer to as a bit of a dog’s breakfast. I surmise at this point that my best bet is to create a separate website to host this blog, but that will probably take some concerted effort that won’t happen before I head away north for the Easter weekend.

Had another disappointment today, about which I’ll say nothing here, except to note that it means going back to the drawing board for a New Plan.

I now propose to turn my back on the disappointments and go proofread my story in preparation for its publication in At the Edge (details on the Other Site). And then watch an unhealthy amount of Daredevil.

February 19, 2016

Blogging is dead, so I started another website

Filed under: administraviata,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 8:22 pm

Hot on the heels of a great panel discussion at Wednesday night’s CSFG meeting – summarised neatly by panelist Alis Franklin here at her website – and coinciding with the appearance of my first new piece of published fiction over at EGM Shorts, I have launched my “professional” writing site.

The stunningly original name: davidversace.com (I know, I can’t believe the domain wasn’t taken either!)

Anyway, everyone here already knows this because I talked about it a couple of weeks ago. From this point on I will begin the not-entirely-thought-out process of separating what I want to write about as a “published professional” [1] as opposed to the more personal, everyday stuff. The Lost recaps and occasional book reviews will probably stay here, though.

I still haven’t quite figured out how to migrate the archives here to a semi-hidden spot on my own domain, but that’s still the plan. I’m still not sure if I need some kind of tech support for that.

Anyhow, I’ll be using that site to make any public announcements about upcoming stories or whatever but since I’ll cross-post here as well, you can take your pick which one to look at.

 

[1] Definition to be consumed with salt; your dosage may vary but I would start at a couple of pinches and work up from there.

February 12, 2015

Writing goals for 2015

Filed under: administraviata,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , , , , — lexifab @ 9:51 pm

Like the Christmas tree in the living room that we still haven’t taken down, so too are my New Years’ writing resolutions coming through grotesquely late. Or no, wait, let’s pretend these are Chinese New Year resolutions, because those are totally a tradition in my Mediterranean-descended, lapsed Anglican leftie ex-pat Queenslander subculture. Besides, I’m quite fond of goats.

Anyway, this is my now-annual hold-myself-to-account post on my writing goals for the year. This is what I want to achieve at a minimum. Ideally I’ll beat these goals by a wide margin, especially if I get my writing streak back in place.

Short stories

At the moment I have about seven completed stories in circulation, which is to say out for submission to various publishers.

One of my goals last year was to complete ten stories, which was eminently achievable, even if I didn’t quite achieve it. This year, my plans are a little more modest. Because I intend to shift my focus onto novel writing (see below) but want to retain some short story momentum, the plan is to always have at least ten finished stories in circulation.

That means that if I retire one from circulation (like the one that’s out now for its 20th and probably final submission) or if one is actually accepted for publication, I need to get a replacement out there as soon as possible. In practise, that means that step one is to complete the three or four stories I have in rough draft, and then maybe sketch out another one or two in preparation for the next time I need to return the budget to surplus (so to speak).

Of course, the caveat here is that the stories have to be good enough for me to want to send them out under my own name. There’s a minimum standard of quality here that I won’t allow myself to slip below. On the other hand, what I’ll need to watch out for is that I don’t let my natural self-critical inclinations get in the way of getting things finished and out the door. Evidence suggests that I am more than capable of chewing over drafts and procrastinating on edits for months at a time, to the detriment of other, more valuable work. I have to make sure I stay out of my own way.

Short story goals: (i) Get my submittable stories up to ten; (ii) always have ten stories in circulation.

Novels

For me, this is the big one. From the painful experience of couple of fairly attempts in the past, I’ve convinced myself that novel-length stories are not a comfortable fit for me. I’ve had a novel outline worked out in (for me) quite a lot of detail for almost a year now.

In all that time, I’ve come up with every excuse under the sun not to start: “I need to finish these short stories first.” “I don’t know if I can fit it in with my job hunting.” (Yes, seriously, i used that one a lot!) “I don’t really know what’s happened in the middle of the novel.” “Am I really sure my lead character doesn’t have the stupidest name in all literature?” and of course, “I really, really want to watch Breaking Bad before I get spoiled for the ending.” (PS: Still winning on that last one. Please don’t spoil the ending of Breaking Bad for me. I’m more than halfway through now).

In the end, all the excuses are blithering nonsense. I want to be a not-completely-obscure writer, so I need to write what people are reading. Pretty much only Ken Liu and Kelly Link are capable of becoming huge in the science fiction and fantasy genre without writing novels. I am neither, nor do I have the requisite initials of KL. Anyone else who wants to make a mark writes a novel.

So, I’m writing a novel. I think I’m going to start on the first of March, or thereabouts. The goal is to finish it by the end of July, which will require a mildly demanding commitment of 500 words a day. The presence of a detailed outline should help, but we’ll see.

The novel, by the way, is the first volume in a young adult science fiction trilogy. Yes, one of those – do feel free to groan audibly. So I will be writing (a) a novel which is (b) part of a series with (c) a young adult protagonist in (d) a fairly-hard science fiction setting. Every single one of those is outside my comfort zone. Put them all together and I expect to be either a gibbering wreck or a phoenix ascending on wings of flaming triumph. Possibly somewhere between the two.

Novel goal: Write a first draft of an 80,000-ish word novel by the end of July.

Supplementary goal: Don’t become a gibbering wreck.

Community activity

I like being a member of a writing community. So much so that I’ve volunteered as the Treasurer of the CSFG committee this. Apart from getting my head around the minor complexities of double-entry bookkeeping, one of my less glamorous writing projects for the year will be to prepare a how-to manual for being the club treasurer. Handovers from one committee to the next have traditional been slow, stuttering affairs – I want to do my bit to make the handover to the next poor sap as seamless as possible by giving them a reference.

Okay, it’s pretty boring, but technical writing is still writing, and in the end it might be among the more demonstrably useful things I do this year. Market analytics indicate the potential audience could be as high as one person every two years, which is on a par with the current audience for my fiction. 😉

Treasurer goal: Write the book on being the CSFG Treasurer. Also, do all the treasuring stuff.

I’ve also taken a relatively minor, straightforward job with the Conflux convention organising committee. I’ll be coordinating the dealers’ room, which means organising vendors, setting up tables and probably getting a heap of coffees for people. In reality I’ll probably end up being roped into other tasks, but at this stage my contribution will be low-key. It didn’t occur to me until later that the not-immediately-obvious benefit of this particular job is that I will have an excuse – no, obligation – to introduce myself to as many publishers of science fiction and fantasy fiction as possible.

Blogging

By trivial coincidence, this should be the 700th blog post on Lexifabricographer. That’s a little hard to believe, but I’m prepared to accept the word of my blog dashboard rather than go back and count. My buddy Andrew kicked my first Lexifab blog over to WordPress back in February 2006, which means this one has been going even longer than the old Blogger one.

It’s looking a bit long in the tooth, to be honest. Since I only started using searchable tags at the start of last year, it’s a bit of a pain to find anything specific on this site. well, if there were anything particularly worth searching for, which is not a call I’d make.

Time for a makeover!

Or rather, time to build a completely new website, dedicated to the whole “being an author” thing. I’ll blog my news and writing stuff there, post up free fiction for Marco, and sales portals for anything that I eventually get published (or published myself). Plus I will totally get a swanky author photo, possibly featuring the subject leaning nonchalantly against something and smirking awkwardly.

With the hosts’ permission, I’ll probably keep this site around for family-and-friends blogging. That separation feels important, not particularly because I’ll be hiding anything, but more because I do occasionally feel moved to commit acts of diary. I can see times when that’s probably not what readers of my epic fourteen-novel series about vampire Hussars on the Trans-Siberian railway will be hunting for.

(PS: Someone commission me to write about railway vampires, because I could totally lock that corner of the market).

As part of the push to furnish the new site with some content, I’ll probably be pushing some free content out – flash pieces and drabbles, most likely. I had a mad urge to undertake a Drabble-a-Day challenge (a drabble is a short story of exactly 100 words, by the way) but I’m not going to distract myself with that until I’ve got the story and novel projects well underway.

None of this will happen quickly. I’ll be teaching myself all of the web administration stuff as I go (or more likely cadging favours from friends who already know how to do all this stuff). So far I don’t even have the domain name. Will get to that after the weekend.

Blog goal: Build a new author website like a real grownup might have.

Let’s go, 2015!

Those are my concrete must-haves for 2015. Those are the things I want to have done and locked by the end of the year. I reckon it’s all achievable, though how comfortably so will depend a lot on how readily I overcome my various anxieties relating to long-form fiction, unfamiliar social interactions and systems administration.

In my next post, I’ll go through a shopping list of more esoteric writing goals – stuff I feel like I want to try my hand at, even if I don’t have a specific purpose in mind just yet.

 

 

 

January 27, 2015

Dithering in January

Filed under: administraviata,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 1:54 pm

This hasn’t exactly been the month for covering myself in glory, writing-wise. I’ve written almost nothing – about one-and-two-thirds short stories, adding up to perhaps five or six thousand words. More than I had when I started the month, certainly, but a long way short of my starry-eyed projections from the end of November. Come to think of it, December was a bit of a wash as well.

Certainly there have been valid distractions – we’ve renovated an entire bedroom, the kids have been at home more, there have been festive season commitments and bits of travel, and as of the middle of the month, I’ve gone back to work.

Even so, it’s a bit disappointing. I was hoping to make January a month of deck-clearing. I wanted to polish up a couple of old story drafts, knock out a couple of new ones, and have a clean plate for diving into a new novel attempt from the start of February. But with a bunch of admin jobs still hanging over my head and gathering an odium of stagnation about them, I’m skeptical that I can really hit the ground running come Sunday the first.

So be it. I’m making lists and ticking them off, and at some point I’ll have stripped off enough of these other obligations that I can feel free to focus on the words.

Until then – more dithering. Early in February I will set myself some goals for the year, but until then I’ll concentrate on getting my jungle of distractions under control.

Pass the defoliant.

November 3, 2014

NotNaNo Day 3 – Sick kid

Filed under: administraviata,joey,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 9:57 pm

The Joey, my eldest, was home sick today, so although I got a bit of outlining done, I didn’t get to writing until the evening. I started a new story, one of the ones I outlined over the weekend, with a working title of ‘Third Violin’. I don’t think I’ve quite nailed the tone I’m looking for yet, but I got a good chunk of the setup established. I expect to have at least some time in the morning to bang out the bulk of the story, which should be no more then three to four thousand words in total.

I also did some administrative stuff for the CSFG website and tinkered a bit with the back end of this blog. I’m vaguely considering changing up the layout. radical, I know, since it’s been six years of this vanilla WordPress theme.

I have another story I’m working on called ‘Incidental’, which is a weird fiction idea I’ve been thinking about for years. It’s a setup that could go more or less anywhere and so far I haven’t figured out what the ending should be. As I type it occurs to me that the solution is just to write a half a dozen or so different endings and run with the one that appeals the most. That’s an interesting experiment. I think that’s one of the things I’ll do tomorrow.

Tally: 535 words from a 50 minute stint.

(I’m starting to detect a pattern in these numbers. To be fair though, I’m usually more prolific when I write in the morning, which I’ve not been able to do for months.)

Total fiction word count for the month: 1945 words

This is the opening of ‘Third Violin’:

Nobody thinks much of you when you’re third violin. If I’m honest I don’t think much of myself. But it’s a dream job and I’m not one for gift horse dentistry. I don’t care where you got the horse. Why would I?

It’s terrible, I know.

September 3, 2014

What I’m working on in September

First of all, I still don’t have a day job, so the main thing I’m working on is reversing that. Much as I’d like it to be otherwise, the mortgage won’t pay itself and I have to say I’m fond of living in my own home. So, it’s not quite time to retire into full-time writing. Yeah, I’m disappointed too.

Around that, I’ve got some projects ongoing. Now that the weather is warming up, the downstairs guest room is finally getting some renovation love. Last week I painted the walls – we’ll quietly overlook the fact that I didn’t check the paint buckets I was using and so have painstakingly applied two coats of exterior paint in a room that gets barely any sun and now reeks of unusually weird fumes – and this week I’m doing door frames, cornices and cupboards. We have a guest arriving next Tuesday, so I’m on a deadline there.

I have some writing projects as well:

Lane of Unusual Traders – I got my submission in (just) to Tiny owl Workshop’s  The Lane of Unusual Traders anthology that closed on Sunday night. I’m pretty proud of how it came out, a bleak little fantasy fable about a character who believes he can hold on to his humanity in a job where a conscience is an active hindrance. That probably sounds like a thinly-veiled political critique but if so it wasn’t intentional (I only just this minute recognised that as a possible interpretation of the story). I suspect that it is really my subconscious lecturing me about the self-destructiveness of procrastination, which is a far more resonant theme with me.

Lost – On my trip to Sydney this weekend, my buddy Andrew reminded me that he was watching along with my Lost reviews, the last one of which I posted almost two years ago. I felt immediately guilty for absolutely no sane reason. As a result I have resumed my rewatch and blog project Back to the Island, starting with the Season 3 opener ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ (see next blog entry!). I figure I will probably power through Season 3, which is probably my least favourite, so that a succession of pretty terrible Nikki and Paolo episodes don’t kill my enthusiasm.

Lighthouse – My still-unnamed lighthouse story is now a full draft in need of revision. I think it’s a pretty good story, so I’m doing my best to look forward to throwing myself at editing it. I still haven’t quite cracked the art of being enthusiastic about revising my work, though I am at least starting to consciously acknowledge the benefits of taking editing seriously. That’s a start.

Breakdown – What would have been my entry to the CSfG Never-Never Land anthology really never came together, but I worked on it a bit over the weekend and at least dragged it a bit closer to being a real story. This will be my “just write it and see what happens” project for the month. Because it’s always worked this way before, I expect that at some point the story will just click into place and I will know how to get from where I am to where I think I’m going, but at the moment it’s a bit of an existential talk-fest between two mildly hostile teenagers. I suspect it needs to be a little more than that. I’ve missed the deadline for the anthology though, so the pressure is off that one.

School Hall – A long-ish fantasy short story with an interesting setting and intriguing characters that either needs paring back to about half its current word count, or needs an injection of considerably more action to justify its length. Either way it’s in need of a complete revision and rewrite. With that one I will have to do a proper outline, not to mention a glossary so that I can remember the weird terminology I made up around the magic systems and the oddly-constructed character names. It’s also a story in search of a title.

Colony Ship – The outline of the novel is about three-quarters done, but there’s a space of about three chapters which is thematically similar to and not much more detailed than “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed” (only way less cool than that opening sentence to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series). I am unsure whether I need to know what happens in that bit before I start writing or if I can just jump in and expect to have to revise my outline as I go anyway. Either way I probably won’t start writing that novel for a while yet – probably not before I have an outline for the sequel at least.

Short stories – Even once I’m finished with the stories I have in draft form, I still have two stories to write to make my minimum goal of ten new stories in 2014. I’d like to get at least one of them underway in September. Most of the stuff I’ve been writing lately has come in at the 6000-8000 word mark (though my Lane story was written to a 3000-word limit) so I would like to aim these next couple at the far more manageable (and marketable) 4000 word length. We’ll see how I go – both Lighthouse and School Hall were intended to be that short, and both are nearly double that size.

Slush reading – In addition to doing a lot of critiquing of other peoples’ short stories, I’ve started working as a volunteer slush reader for an Australian speculative fantasy magazine. Basically the job involves rating stories for the benefit of editors putting together an issue of the journal, and providing a few critique comments for the author about what did and didn’t work. At some point down the line I may throw my hat into the ring to become an editor, but for the moment I’m concentrating on building my ability to read critically and pull writing apart to see how it ticks. It’s not something I’ve ever worked hard at before, but I’m interested now.

(Clam – still going on the middle 99 Cities. Ssstttiiiilllllll going.)So that’s it for now (unless there’s something I’ve forgotten which is by now means impossible). What’s up in your neck of the woods?

April 3, 2014

The lights come up and

Filed under: administraviata — lexifab @ 3:42 pm

…it sort of looks like the blog is working again. Maybe. The RSS feeds still look a bit wonky, but I think we’re going again.

So I will just take the opportunity to note a few things:

– The Joey is fine and not at all bothered by his missing front teeth. Shrieking hysterics in the pre- and post-op wards did, however, occur as anticipated.

– I will be attending the Conflux Writers Day and the Aurealis Awards this Saturday. If you can’t be there, I will be livetweeting the hell out of both events (follow @_Lexifab, with the official hashtag #writersday).

– I’m rather excited about a short story submission I’m sending off tonight. Editing it was an amazing exercise. I think I may actually have started convincing my subconscious of the value of editing. Of course it helped that I had some terrific critiques on this one, critiques that fixed numerous problems including the title and the ending.

– The sun is beginning to set on my public service career. Details when they’re available.

 

March 24, 2014

Quick test

Filed under: administraviata — lexifab @ 7:21 am

If this shows up in your RSS feed, can you throw a comment down? I think I may have vanished in some obscure way.

Thanks.

March 14, 2014

Snippets

Filed under: administraviata,fitter/happier — Tags: , , , , , — lexifab @ 10:44 pm
  1. Still no news from work. I’m really quite ready to have a bit more clarity now, thanks.
  2. I’ve been a bit sick this week, probably not unrelated to the previous point.
  3. Since last Lexifab entry I have completed a first draft of a short story for Unfettered, a forthcoming anthology. The first polish needs to remove three hundred words to get it down to the maximum story length, which is going to be painful.
  4. I’ve also received a draft contract for my first pro sale, which hasn’t quite gone through now, and actally may no longer technically be considered a pro sale, at least not for purposes of recognition from SFWA (which as far as I know is the closest thing to an international professional speculative fiction writing association). For my personal purposes, of course it’s a pro sale.
  5. (No, I am not angling for SFWA membership any time in the foreseeable future. Irrespective of its current regeneration crisis, I can’t see that it offers all that much to Australian writers at the moment. But their membership qualifications of three short story sales at pro rates or a book deal make a decent target to aim for nevertheless).
  6. I’ve begun outlining a science fiction adventure trilogy. No part of that sentence aligns with anything I recognise or acknowledge about myself as an writer, and yet it’s true.
  7. I am also writing a story about a serial murderer of house pets, which is on slightly less treacherous literary grounds for me. (That’s not the Unfettered one)
  8. I am feeling a bit guilty – presumably having done myself some tremendous psychological damage in the past, since firmnly repressed – at the lack of reviews I’ve done lately, so I will be throwing myself into that over the next little while. I can’t remember whether I’ve signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 yet, but I might as well kick that off tonight.

January 2, 2014

Test(-ing my patience)

Filed under: administraviata — lexifab @ 9:18 am

I cannot for the life of me figure out why that last post has comments locked. The purpose of this post is to see whether it was a one-off or an endemic issue.

Edit: Endemic, it seems. WTF is wrong with this thing? Grr.

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