Looking for 2 beta readers for a short story

I’ve got a short story that’s in the final draft stage before submission.  The deadline is the end of the month.  My crit group have already picked over it, but I’m looking for fresh eyes.

It’s science fiction, but not overly technical. It’s mostly a character story.

If you can spare the time for a read and review, I will certainly return the favour for a short story or novel chapter you need feedback on.

Drop me a line at m dot faber at iinet dot net dot au if you can help.



Writing, revising and linkiness

I’ve written 18k of short storyness in the last 2 weeks, and then embarked on a mad 2-day revision spree.  My brain is fairly toasted at the moment, so I thought I would point you in the direction of a few good links while my grey matter still cowers at the base of my skull.

I’m a fan of Alexandra Solokoff for her brilliant writing advice, especially her attitude; writing is HARD WORK.  Today she talks about The Bash-Through Draft (aka draft zero).

Then when I start to write a first draft I just bash through it from beginning to end. It’s the most grueling part of writing a book  (the suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark called it “clawing through a mountain of concrete with my bare hands…”) and takes the longest, but writing the whole thing out, even in the most sketchy way, from start to finish, is the best way I know to actually guarantee that I will finish a book or a script.

Thanks, Alex, I needed to hear that today.  Coming back from a revision frenzy always leaves me reaching for perfection instead of progress.

In terms of revision though, now is a good time to talk about Weasel Words.  I can’t remember who coined the phrase, but Weasel Words are the weak points in our prose; the superfluous words that contribute nothing to the story.

From Vision: Ten Quick Fixes to Improve Your Fiction.

From Fantasy Faction: Ready to Submit?  Check Again…

And from Jennifer M Eaton: It.  I Really Hate It.

As an example, this weekend I revised a 9.9k story down to 8.5k by eradicating all the weasel words from the manuscript.  How did I lose 1.8k words?  Because you don’t just delete the weasel word.  You have to look at the paragraph around it, consider the impact and what you need to change.  Often you will find that a weasel word marks a weak passage that lacked strong action, strong emotion or impact, or in fact any relevance to the story.

Check out the links, then go hunting.  You will be amazed at the difference in your prose.

Snippet share

Tianzi Mountain or Heaven’s Son Mountain

I’m having a lot of fun with my current novella.  It’s high fantasy, something I haven’t written in many years.  It’s a story about forgiveness, and pain, and finding courage again.  The story location was inspired by the beautiful Tianzi Mountains in China (pictured).

I’ve also been having a lot of fun putting together images related to the novella on Pinterest.  If you’re on Pinterest, let me know!

This is the beginning of the second scene.

The first time I knew I would marry Kamon I was carrying a baby to the sacred pool. It was Usimi I carried in my arms, the first child I would bless alone after I had sent my mother’s bones to the forest below.

The baby’s family surrounded me in a chattering crowd, so I did not notice when he began to follow. At the ropeway platform I turned to speak to the baby’s mother and I saw him. He perched in a tree that clung to the side of the rock, hanging out over the gap.

He was looking straight at me.

I turned away, pretended I hadn’t seen him, but I could feel his gaze on the back of my neck. I knew he was married already, to the beautiful Siri. On the pretense of settling the child I glanced his way again. He met my gaze, possessiveness in his eyes. His arrogance stirred something inside me.

I turned away from the throng and stepped to the edge of the platform. I held the baby securely against me and raised one arm.

The wind came at my bidding and lifted me up and over the gap. There were gasps and shrieks and then a cheer as I landed on the other side, the babe secure in my arms.

I turned and met Kamon’s stare openly. I remember his lips curving up in a smile. The wind tore down upon us, dancing around the crowd, whipping hair and clothes about. I stood unmoved in the disturbance, my eyes on Kamon.

If he wanted me, I would not be an easy prize.

Feel free to post a snippet of your own, either in the comments or on your own blog, and tell us a little about what you are working on.

A change of plans

I’ve had to re-plan my 2012 project a little.  I’ve started draft 2 of Traitor, and it’s coming along well.  However my original plan to rewrite about 85% of it has turned into the realisation that I might as well rewrite the whole thing.

So, since Traitor is acting like a first draft, I’m putting Freedom on hold and dusting off an old novella of mine, The Vessel.  It’s something unusual for me, an urban fantasy set in Australia.  I really liked the story and the protagonist, so I’m looking forward to revisiting it.  Heaven only knows what I’ll do with it when it’s rewritten, but there are a couple of people wanting to find out what happened so I might as well finish it for them.

This gives me something to actually revise during the revision phase.

End of January check in

It’s the end of the month.  My read-through is complete, my spreadsheet has been filled out and I am ready to embark on draft 2.

Here are some stats on my progress so far.

Total scenes in first draft: 69

Total wordcount in first draft: 83,000

Number of scenes that made it to draft 2: 31

Points of view dropped: 1

Subplots discarded: 2

Characters expunged: 11 (!!)

Characters merged: 2

Cliches obliterated: 3

Times I loved the story: very few

Times I bemoaned my decision to be a writer: lots

Times I required alcohol: most of them

Bright moments of hope for my career: one and a half

Cups of coffee consumed: 4 hot, 1 cold

Plotting for my new story is on track, but I think it will be a while before I start writing as I have a lot of new writing to do on the revision piece.  But that’s okay.  I have all year.

How about you?  How did you do?  How are you feeling? Are you even still here?  Post about your progress below, or link to a blog post of your own.

From words to art

Words into art

The Columbia Art League is currently holding an exhibition of art based on stories in Hint Fiction: An anthology of stories in 25 words or fewer.  I was one of the lucky authors to have their story turned into art.

Read more about the exhibition at editor Robert Swartwood’s blog.

(Click on the picture for a better view.)

It’s rather lovely to think of your words inspiring an artist to create in a different medium.  I’m quite chuffed.

I especially like that it’s not so much art about my story, but art about reading my story.  The book and the bookends are part of the art.  Lovely.


I don’t know about you, but my writing progress tends to go in fits and starts.  I’ll be rabbiting along, getting nowhere, and then I’ll write something amazing which sells fast and I will feel like I’ve made progress, like I’ve reached a new level in my writing.

And then I’ll rabbit along at that level for a while, feeling like I’m going nowhere again.

I’m at the rabbiting stage at the moment.  I’ve made some good sales, I can see improvement in my writing, but I’m not producing the amazing writing that I aspire to.  I feel like I am in writing limbo.

There are three ways to make progress in any skill.  One is practice, which you have to do a LOT.  The second is self-learning, where you concentrate on one particular skill until you’ve improved it.  The last one is learning from another, whether it’s a mentor, a writing course or a workshop.

I feel like I’m in need of that sort of learning.  I’ve been practicing like a manic.  I read the best, and I try to learn as much as I can about how the best writers do it.

But in terms of the third way to progress, I’m stuck.  There aren’t that many workshops and courses available where I am, and most of them are for beginning writers.  And as for SFF writers, well…they are few and far between.

So, I’m in limbo.  Back to writing and subbing and trying to get somewhere.

P.S. Apparently this is my 150th post.  Woo!

I need to…

…read and sign a contract.

Review a proof.

Explain why I chose a particular title, or change it.

Write two bios (Aargh!)

Create an author photo. (AAAAAARGH!)

Find markets for 4 stories, work out what they want in submission formatting, and submit.

Maybe I can send the family out to hunt the Snark.  That should keep them occupied long enough…

What’s your writing list like?