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!


Which novel should I write next?

I’m halfway through the latest novella and now I’m thinking about where to go next.  So help me out by picking one of the options below:

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?

Spread your wings

Icarus flew from his prison
On wings of bone and wax.
His father warned him not to fly too high
But he reached out for the sun.
The brightness burned
His wings
And he fell into the sea and drowned.

The elders crouch around the fire
Like ancient boulders
Gnarled hands like roots
Gripping tight to the placid earth.
“Heed the lesson, children!
If you fly towards the sun, you will fall.
Stay close to the ground, and you will be safe.”

But they are wrong.
That is not the lesson.
If your wings won’t carry you high enough
Build better wings.
Carry them on your back
Up the steep paths
To the edge of the cliff where the falcons soar over the spray.

Do not look down
At the rocks below.
Look up, at the sun
And spread your wings.
Fly, little dreamer.
The sky is yours.

Photo courtesy of Hashmil and used under a Creative Commons License.

A bit of alphabetic fun

Anna over at Quills and Zebras posted another challenge.

The rules are this: write a story that is 26 sentences long. This first sentence must start with the letter ‘A’, and every following sentence begins with the subsequent letter of the alphabet, ending with ‘Z’.

It’s a cute challenge, but there are some letters that are just a bit too difficult to work around.  So I cheated, and went for 26 lines of dialogue instead.  Enjoy!

**Update!  Janette and Chris have joined in, and produced two great SF shorts.  Post a link in the comments here or on Anna’s page if you are going to play .


“All staff initiate emergency procedures.  Exhaust containment failure.

“Bloody hell!  How close is the station?”

“Collision warning.  Collision warning.”


“Engines non-responsive.”


“Get down to the engine room, clear those lines!”

“How?  The blast doors are locked down!”

“Impact in T-minus 10 seconds.”

“Just do it!”

“Karma’s biting back, boys!  Should have left that last freighter alone!”

“Look to your stations, and cut the malarky!”

“My boards are offline.  We’re losing power.”


“Open the port bay and dump the cargo!”

“Port cargo bay dumped.  If this ships a-rockin’, baby, don’t come a-knockin’!”

“Quiet down!  Where’s that power reroute?”

“Rerouting now.  Boards should be coming back up!”


“Thrusters online!  Get us out of here!”

“Unable to engage thrusters!”

“Vitals failing!  We’re losing servo control!”


“Xenon leakage in the hydraulics!  We’ve got pressure overflow!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”


The View from the Narrative


Merrilee crept through the plot, ducking the twisted branches that threatened to entangle the fragile narrative she carried on her back.  A flock of adverbs fluttered heavily across the page.  With no foreshadowing, a minor villain appeared; throwing the readers into confusion.  Action was needed, and fast.

She drew the gun, hand shaking.  Her alpha reader’s comments came back to her; truthful, damning.   “Watch out.  You’ve got guns appearing out of nowhere.”

Behind the villain, she saw that the scene was weak and shaky.  She was angry at the situation.  She heard the narrative falter, then felt it start up again with a lurch.  Telling was choking the life out of it.  She looked over her shoulder.  There was only one way out of this exposition.

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