Next Publishing Mission

Earlier this year, I committed myself to finishing my fourth book, Alive: Part II and a short story entitled The Swap.

Alive: Part II is about 3/4 complete, and The Swap is now complete.

Instead of trying to get any of my books published for the moment, I want to pursue publication for The Swap. I have submitted it to two magazines so far, with one of those submissions ultimately being a waste. I made the mistake of assuming the manuscript format was similar to what is accepted for novel submissions (you can laugh at my mistake) but short story ones are a different creature entirely. I am pretty sure the editor of the magazine didn’t bother reading the story before he rejected it, and I can’t blame him.

There aren’t that many magazines that accept science-fiction stories of my story’s length so I don’t have that many outlets to submit to. I am hoping that one of the less than 10 options I have works out, but the odds of that are very slim.

If the short story submissions don’t work out I’ll likely post it here and then try to gain some traction online through other outlets. Trying to publish a book without any previous publishing experience is almost impossible so I figure that having a real publishing credit under my belt can help (marginally) when I continue that search.

Achievement

We all want to achieve something special,

Do something that will be remembered long after we’re gone,

In our minds,

We’re the next Steve Jobs,

The next Stephen King,

The next Spielberg,

The next Picasso,

Isn’t this the case for just about everyone?

No one grows up wanting to flip burgers,

Or deal with whiny, angry customers all day,

Yet we need people to fill those roles,

As a Pixar character once said, “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

We can’t have a society where everyone gets what they want out of life,

The people who are at the top are often there because they are catering to some unfulfilled need or desire in the people below them,

The best creams to moisturize and get ride of acne,

The best clothes to compliment their body,

The best pill for losing weight,

The best advice to get out of the rut they are in,

I am a victim of the last one,

Devouring whatever is dished out by people who don’t identify as self-help gurus,

But serve the same purpose,

Maybe I am just another pawn,

Shelling out what little money I have,

Reading, studying, applying,

And hoping my investment pays off,

I remember attending a Writer’s Conference years ago,

Seeing people twice or three times my age still working at their dream,

It was admirable in one sense,

But also disheartening,

Will I be another person stuck in an unfulfilling day job?

Continuing to work towards something more,

And possibly never getting what I truly want?

My Mind

Hello everyone,

Sorry for a long gap in posting. A lot of things have come up this week, but no excuses. Back to it with a piece inspired by one of the shorter poems I posted to my @wmoviegrapevine instagram. A lot has been going through my head recently and I have been working on managing stress and expectations, so I felt like doing a piece on the mind was appropriate. Since I post a lot of pieces to instagram that never get posted anywhere else I figure that I may start posting more original pieces on the site.

stairwell

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I am still trying to navigate the maze,

The labryinth,

Dark recesses,

Patches of blinding light,

Flat land,

Steep mountains,

Sheer cliffs,

The mysteries of my mind continue to elude me,

Its terrain changes with each smile or frown I see,

With every word of encouragement,

With every insult,

With every success,

With every failure.

 

Elseworld: Part II

Good afternoon everyone,

Was working on my second book so I thought I would share a small excerpt from the first one, Elseworld. This is the continuation of the last excerpt. In total, these pieces account for the first eight of the book.

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Amback knew that a bloodstained planet was somewhere west of him: Thousands, maybe millions of miles away. Despite that distance, the planet was still a constant presence in his life. His deformities were the most obvious reminder of the war that turned his home world into a giant scab. His skin, shrivelled like a dying fruit’s, was the genetic stamp of radiation from the bombs dropped to end a bloody conflict: A conflict that started when the Gabuns tried to exterminate his people. Millions of his people were scattered across Gabun, imprisoned from the moment of their birth. His fight was for them.

Maybe there was a time when peaceful protest could have ushered in change. Amback wasn’t born into that time. He was born into a society where slavery was a tradition. He’d heard stories of protestors who sprang up when slavery was first being introduced. He’d also heard stories of them going missing or being attacked by police dogs. He could no longer be a civil rights activist; he had to be a freedom fighter. They may call him a terrorist, but Amback knew his cause was noble.

His actions inspired others to follow suit all across the planet. The other movements were smaller and less organized but they all sent a message. There was more to life than work and whips. If despair and defeat could be pushed aside then it was possible to break free from the restrictions imposed by society; Amback only wished he could communicate directly with the fighters all across the planet. Travelling across the city’s borders was impossible with heightened security and many of the groups did not have the technology necessary to communicate remotely. Even if they did, government monitoring of communication posed a constant threat to secrecy. Numerous other groups that sprung up in Mari over the past few years learned that lesson the hard way.

Despite their scattered nature, these different groups were still a potent threat. In total, escaped slaves were responsible for millions of deaths all across the planet. Amback’s group, Cicenti Mort, formed the bulk of those kills.

Things were easier when they started four years ago. Terrorism was once a rare threat for the Gabuns. Attacking populated areas was easy, it only required waiting for news of parades and festivals that honoured their dictator. Thousands of people fell victim to bombs planted around them the night before. Multiple festivals, multiple nights, and the death toll climbed easily. Then came the curfew, the nightly patrols, the bomb sweeps, and everything became more complicated.

Amback never thought he’d be able to kill all of the Gabuns before his time passed: He had killed nearly two million, but there were still two hundred million more. Amback could only hope to be a stepping-stone for others, inspiring successive generations to rise up and eventually topple the system that stole them from their planet so many years ago. Despite the presence of more freedom fighters he sometimes wondered what impact they had on the slaves that were still imprisoned. Security at plantations was far more heightened since Cicenti Mort’s first attack, making them the toughest locations to attack. Freeing slaves was no longer an option. That also brought up the question of how the slaves behind those fortified walls were treated after their brothers killed more of their oppressors. Either way, what choice did he have?

He continued to manoeuvre through the earthen cavern that served as his base. Moist soil boxed him in, giving him little room to move in either direction. The smell would probably be bothersome for some people, but Amback was trained from his years on the plantation. Nothing could compare to the smells within a slave hut – back then everything from sweat to feces assaulted his nostrils daily.

All the caverns and hallways looked the same, but years of practice allowed Amback to find his destination without any confusion. More earthen walls, more narrow caverns, but this time there was also a rickety metal desk and a few chairs. Amback liked to think of them as gifts from the previous occupants of the cavern. The room was now Cicenti Mort’s de facto meeting chamber. It was far better than prison or a plantation.

Amback listened to the latest radio broadcast; there was a story of another attack by The Revolution. Not only was their name less creative, but The Revolution was also a hindrance to Cicenti Mort’s effort. The leader, Duska, always released videos to the police after attacks. By revealing his face he could be easily detected by the public if he was ever forced out of his lair. A slave without chains was bound to attract attention. The only reason the public knew of Cicenti Mort was due to their first attack, where Amback used Gabun blood to paint the name. Since Duska only took credit for his own attacks in the city, authorities had probably deduced that all others were Cicenti Mort’s. It was good to know that sending a message did not always require exposing oneself.

Amback still wished to meet with Duska, uniting the major rebel organizations could create the power needed to launch several coordinated attacks, taking more lives in a shorter amount of time. Duska’s superior technology could possibly be used to send messages to the other freedom fighters as well and arrange coordinated planet wide attacks. The efforts of lone workers and Duska’s mail bombs were still something to fear, but a true planet wide brotherhood had endless possibilities. Yet there was always the nagging question of whether Duska’s ego would be compatible with Amback’s cause. Would Duska truly want to work together or would he simply try to impose his will?

How I Started Writing

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I’m not a bestselling author, or even a selling author. However, I often hear people say they want to write a book but don’t know how to. As someone who’s book has yet to be accepted by a literary agent, I don’t want to claim to be an expert, but I can honestly say that my writing has improved greatly since I started writing creatively when I was eleven. That isn’t saying much, but my point is that skill comes with practice.

I once submitted the first ten pages of my book to an online “boot camp” hosted by Writer’s Digest. For a $200 fee, a literary agent would review the first ten pages of your book and provide personalized feedback. After one generic rejection letter after another e.g. “Than you for sending us your query but it isn’t right for us”, I was very eager to get real feedback on my writing. One of the biggest criticisms I received was that my story was mostly dialogue and narrative, there was little done in the way of painting a scene and building a world. Friends, and even some agents who have read it since now say that the imagery and the world building is one of the things that stood out most about the book. That is not to say that I am spellbinding, but it is a clear indicator of improvement.

When I was in grade five, an English teacher suggested that I should write a book. My mom agreed and I wrote my first novella in grade eight. It was a pretty horrible piece called Camp Escapade that only my mom and another English teacher read. However, it sparked my interest in writing and led me to pursue writing as a career. Camp Escapade also gave me early experience with the process of querying agents and trying to promote myself. I went through a period where I continuously rewrote Camp Escapade. There were long periods where I didn’t write at all since I didn’t value consistent creative output at the time.

When I was in grade eleven I started writing again, using my history classes as inspiration for a story of alien slavery. I wrote my first draft of Elseworld by the time I graduated and had the naïve idea that I would be published by the time I graduated university. During this stage, I started to realize how bleak the prospect of getting published was. I started to look up publishing statistics, and realized that it was almost a pipe dream. Yet I didn’t want to quite.

The most recent draft of Elseworld, which I finished last year, is far superior to the first.  It taught me what hard work and patience could lead to. I may have had an air of entitlement concerning my first work -maybe some of it still lingers- but I was now committed to become published. I no longer cared if it didn’t happen with my preset timeline. I always wanted to set a goal for myself but I realized that I didn’t want to quit if my goal didn’t materialize.